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What's a food bank?
Food banks serve the community by acquiring and distributing food to people in crisis. Like most others, Luton Foodbank is a non-profit project which relies on grants and donations to operate.
Can you deliver food parcels if I have restricted mobility?
This can be arranged via the referrer who issues your voucher.
My school wants to help. Where can I find educational resources?
We'd love to come to school assembly and give a presentation to the students. Please contact us to arrange something! Meanwhile, you can find resources at lutonfoodbank.org.uk/schools. Please check back often, because we're always adding stuff!
Do you accept/distribute non-food items (e.g., clothes, blankets, nappies, sanitary items)?
We do distribute some non-food items, such as female sanitary products. If you want to donate other items, such as clothes and blankets, it may be better to approach other local charities. For more information, please get in touch.
I've collected a lot of food. Can you come and pick it up?
This depends on how many items you have and the availability of volunteers to make a collection. Please contact us to discuss.
Who will see my details?
We take clients' privacy very seriously. Only those staff/volunteers who absolutely need to see your details will have access to them. You may have seen some clients named in interviews or videos. These people have agreed in advance to this.
Do food vouchers have an expiry date?
Yes, vouchers expire seven days after the date of issue. Please contact your referrer if you run into difficulties redeeming your voucher in time.
Can you supply vegetarian food parcels?
I can't spare money or time. Can I still help?
You certainly can! One of our biggest challenges is raising awareness. You can help in a big way by printing items from our Posters page to display at your school or place of work.
Can I use your logo for my event?
If you're fundraising for Luton Foodbank, you can use the logos here, subject to terms and conditions.
Do you have charity status?
Luton Foodbank is exempt from registration with the Charity Commission because it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Luton Foodbank is a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. This means that it operates to benefit the community, and prohibits any distribution of assets or profits to members. If you'd like to read about Luton Foodbank's inception, and the decision to register in this way, click here. Luton Food Bank is a charity, approved by HMRC from 11th February 2014. (Number EW24901)
When are you closed over public holidays?
Details of holiday closures are published on our website and social media in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
If I donate food items that aren't on your list, will your clients get them? I heard food banks return luxury foods to the supermarket.
We don't believe that someone needing help should not be able to enjoy treats, so the short answer is yes, they will. But please bear the following points in mind:
- Donated items have to be collected, moved, and stored, so something fragile that could be broken is not suitable.
- We have no chilled storage, so products that need to be kept in the fridge or freezer are definitely out. Sadly, we would have no choice but to throw them away.
- Equally important, the item's remaining shelf-life shouldn't be too short.
- Our food list has been carefully prepared to represent the best balance of nutrition and value, so sticking to it is the best way to ensure you're helping combat hunger.
But, provided your "non-list" donation is suitable for transport and storage, it will find its way to our Bonus Table. (See video Exploring a distribution centre.) When a client collects their food parcel, which is made up of essentials from the list, they have the opportunity to choose something from the Bonus Table. It's a great way to ensure food parcels have the maximum benefit and still allow people a nice treat. So, as long as it can be moved and stored easily, any donation is very welcome.
Aren't food banks encouraging dependency?
The report's authors went so far as to state:
We found no evidence to support the idea that increased food aid provision is driving demand.
All available evidence, both in the UK and internationally, points in the opposite direction. Put simply, there is more need, and informal food aid providers are trying to help.
But you don't need a Government report to work this one out. At every stage of a Luton Foodbank client's journey, he or she is offered professional support and encouraged to take the right steps to remedy their situation. Significantly, most foodbanks—including Luton Foodbank—operate a policy limiting the number of uses someone can make of their service. Any so-called "dependency" would have a maximum duration of about two weeks. Since 87% of our users are back on their feet after only one or two visits, the pundits clearly didn't do their homework.
How can my business help?
Your business may be able to offer facilities or goods directly. For example, some local printers have helped us produce promotional material. Alternatively, you may be tempted by our range of sponsorship packages, which offer various rewards for annual donations. Main page: Business
What if I need help more times than the limit of five?
If you really are still struggling, please contact us so that we can make an assessment of your situation.
Apart from food, what other help can you give me?
We work in partnership with Citizens Advice, who provide advice and support on all sorts of issues: money, benefit, housing or employment problems.
Main page: Get advice
Can anyone claim a food parcel?
Anyone can find they're unable to cope with food costs, but you will need a voucher in order to claim food parcels. See one of our referrers to see if you qualify for a voucher. Main page: Get food
You help people in crisis. What do you mean by "crisis"?
You may be facing crisis if:
- your benefits have been stopped/changed/sanctioned
- you've lost your job
- you're suffering from illness or disability
- unable to cover your living costs due to a short-term problem
Does this describe you?Look at our "get help" page to see whether you could qualify.
What other agencies do you work with?
Luton Borough Council, local schools, churches, mosques, Citizens Advice.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes, you can donate by card via Paypal or VirginMoneyGiving on our Give money page. You can also opt in to Gift Aid, which means more money for us, at no extra cost to you.
Hard to believe?Go to our donations page and see!
What's "Gift Aid"?
Gift Aid is a government tax incentive which allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 donated - at no additional cost to the giver. More more information, see Wikipedia.
Hard to believe?Go to our donations page and see!
Why did I see someone collecting food parcels in a nice car when they claim they can't afford food?
Many of our clients are working - sometimes at two or three jobs - but still in crisis. They might have recently lost their job, in which case selling their car might disadvantage them in the jobs market. Rest assured that our service is not about giving freebies to the lazy or greedy. Our clients are referred to us because of genuine need, and we support them while they get back on track.
How do you know whether someone really needs your help?
Our trained referrers interview all prospective clients to make a realistic assessment of their situation.
Where can I donate food?
We have permanent collection points across the town. Please see our List of drop-off locations to find the one most convenient for you.
Can I donate fresh or frozen food?
Sadly, we are unable to accept perishable foods due to the associated problems with storage and distribution. If you have fresh or frozen food you want to donate, please contact NOAH Enterprise on 01582 728416. NOAH carries out wonderful work with homeless and socially disadvantaged people in Luton.
Is it better to donate money or food?
We need both, so it's up to you! Non-perishable food items chosen from our food list have the wonderful quality of variety, which can really mean a lot to the person who ends up with it. Donations of money help us to plug the gaps if a particular food type is in short supply.
How many people do you help?
Sadly, the number is rising all the time. In 2016 we gave out 7,565 food parcels - an increase of more than 25% on the previous year. You can find a table of recent distribution figures here.
How many times can I use Luton Foodbank?
You can get food-bank help up to five times a year. All of our distribution sessions are attended by professionals from Citizens Advice who can offer guidance on how to recover from the crisis that led you there.
Can I arrange my own event?
Do you supply halal meat?
If you need halal meat, we can replace standard tinned meat items with a voucher, and information about how to redeem it.
How much food will I get? How long will it last?
Our standard food parcel contains enough food for three days.
Where do I collect my food parcel(s)?
We have weekly distributions across the town. The referrer who issues your food-bank voucher will also be able to tell you about the locations and times most convenient for you. To get in touch with a referrer, click here.
Are you making money out of this?
Absolutely not! Luton Foodbank is a not-for-profit project with charity status. (Charity number EW24901.)
What fundraising events can I take part in?
Throughout the year we hold many fundraising events, from coffee mornings to sports challenges. Watch our events page for up-to-date details.
Main page: Events
How do I volunteer?
We often need help in our warehouse (High Town area), help with driving, and help with supermarket collections. Details of days/times can be found by following the link below. You must be over 18 years old to volunteer, but younger people may wish to help by organising a food collection at school, or doing a sponsored challenge like this.
Main page: Volunteer
How can I donate money?
You can donate money via Paypal or VirginMoneyGiving. You can opt to apply Gift Aid to your donations, which increases the amount we receive at no extra cost to you. You can also set up a standing order for regular donations.
Main page: Give money
What food donations do you accept?
We generally ask that all donated items have a long shelf life (i.e., the "use-by" date is a long way off). We cannot store fresh fruit/vegetables, or any items which need to be kept in the fridge or freezer.
Up-to-date list of needed items: Food list
Why does Luton Foodbank exist?
Disaster (such as bereavement, serious illness, or loss of work or benefits) can strike anyone at any time. We believe no one should be hungry, so we strive to make sure everyone in our community has enough to eat. We supply food to people in hardship or distress, and support their efforts to improve their situation.
What meals can I make with a food parcel?
We have found many recipes which use typical food parcel contents. Find our YouTube recipes here.
Where can I get advice on debt, benefits, etc?
Free and confidential advice is available at Community House, 15 New Bedford Road. Times: 9am-4pm, Mon-Fri. Call Luton Access for an appointment on 0344 245 1285.
Main page: Get advice
How can I get emergency food?
Mon-Fri: Luton Borough Council Crisis Support on 0800 456 1673 or Citizen Advice Bureau on 0844 245 1285.
Sat: Call at Discover Islam, Upper George Street.
If you are assessed as being eligible for help, you will be given a voucher to take to one of our food distribution points.
Main page: Get food
What if my question isn't listed here?
Ask us! You can contact us using our online form, email email@example.com, message us on Twitter or Facebook, call us on 01582 725838, or write to us at: Luton Foodbank, PO Box 1379, Luton, LU1 9PS. We'll try to answer your question, and if we can do so, you'll probably see it added to these FAQs.