I was very interested to see this article from FreeFromHeaven today, about a teenager who has organised a gluten free foodbank in America.
I have wondered in the past about how someone with coeliac disease would manage—or indeed other dietary requirements—if they had to use a foodbank.
I contacted the Trussell Trust some time ago, to ask about this. They run over 400 foodbanks across the UK, giving emergency food and support to people in crisis. Last year they gave out nearly 1,183,000 three-day emergency food supply packs.
Here in the UK, care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, schools and social workers can issue a foodbank voucher to people they have identified as in crisis. This voucher entitles them to receive a foodbank parcel of three days’ nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food. The voucher would indicate a special diet if the person being referred made it clear that it was needed, though at the foodbanks, clients are asked about preferences and the food packs adjusted.
The Trussell Trust told me that they have a list of gluten free foods that they send out to foodbanks (based on information from Coeliac UK), and that foodbanks also cater for halal, vegetarian and diabetic diets. Foodbanks generally don’t hold large stocks of gluten free products but that the foodbanks would do their best to provide gluten free products for clients if needed.
How to help foodbanks in the UK
The Trussell Trust advise that if you’d like to help with providing gluten free products for people in need, it is best to find out from your local foodbank what they need first.
The Trussell Trust has over 400 foodbanks, but there are at least 650 other foodbanks across the country, according to the Independent.
And of course several supermarkets collect food donations from their customers to be given to a local foodbank, so you can easily drop off a donation there after doing your shop.
Looking for help?
If you are yourself in crisis, and need help in the UK, contact your doctor, health visitor or social worker to ask for help. The Trussell Trust also has information about grants which you might be able to apply for, and a benefits calculator.
But I’m in the USA
Feeding America is probably the biggest foodbank organisation in the US, and you can find your local foodbank, or contact Feeding America, via their website.