Supermarkets just aren’t as cheap as they used to be, are they? Despite having far too much choice, prices are still constantly soaring and just a small box of Rice Krispies will cost you a fortune these days!

If the price of bread (and everything else) is getting those around you down, why not make a point of fighting back by starting your own food bank operation. You will feel better with the knowledge that you are helping less fortunate people around you, plus you’ll learn how to find the best deals for yourself so that you and your family can eat well too.

The use of food banks in the UK reached an all-time high earlier this year, with a 13% rise since 2017. Figures from Trussel Trust show that 1,332,952 three-day emergency food banks were delivered over the past year, which means people are still struggling to put food on their table every single day.

Low income and heaps of debt are two of the biggest reasons behind the increased use of food-banks, but it is the benefit changes that are hitting the public hard. The reduction in benefits has meant that there are more referrals than ever being made.

So, if you want to do your bit to help the community around you, here is a simple guide on how to get started.

What Is Your Mission?

Before you start working out what food you’re going to give away, you need to decide on your mission statement. You need to think about a few things, such as what area you are going to serve and who will do the work. Will it be just you? Will your friends and family get involved, or will you reach out for help from volunteers?

You’ll also need to think about the eligibility factors involved. Will your food bank have eligibility requirements, or will it be open to anyone who feels they could use the help?  To begin with, it is probably best that you do have limitations, as it will take time to build the great connections that will inevitably help you do this consistently.

Community Spirit

Hastings Foodbank feature at the Hastings Centre. Natalie Williams, community engagement manager King's Church. Poverty-stricken residents near the Dad's Army town are evoking the Blitz Spirit by donating tins of food to help their neighbours - because so many rely on food banks. See NATIONAL story NNFOOD. Demand for food bank provisions on the south coast where the fictional town of Walmington-on-sea was set has seen a massive rise since last year. Food banks along the south coast have seen an 82 per cent increase in needy people coming through the doors since December. Charity Hastings Foodbank in East Sussex, just 15 miles from where the feisty band of pensioners took on the might of the Third Reich, believes the recent overhaul of the benefits system to Universal Credit is responsible for the surge in need. Universal Credit involves wrapping six existing benefits into a single monthly payment. But the foodbank said many were struggling, having to wait six weeks for their money.

Even if your heart is in the right place, it is pretty much impossible for one person to successfully operate a food bank. There is more to running one than many realise, and so you need to make sure that you have the right people around you in order to make it thrive.

You need community support – and a lot of it! Reach out to other organisations in your area and see if they are willing to offer any sort of help. You will probably be surprised by the amount of people wanting to do their bit.

Some organisations, such as churches, local government agencies and even schools, may be able to help provide food donations.

Plus, there is no reason why you shouldn’t’ reach out to other food banks. They may be able to share some amazing tips and will of course want to see you do well.

There are organisations that may be able to get you in touch with some fantastic volunteers who can help you run the food bank itself or collect donations on your behalf. Some volunteers that have access to a car may be able to help with deliveries to families in need.

Storage Is Key

You will need to find a place to store the food. You will be relying heavily on donations throughout the year, which may vary at times. For the occasions where you have more food than is needed immediately, you will need to have the right storage solution.

If you’re working with other organisations, such as a church or homeless shelter, you may find that you can store the food there. However, that might not be the case, especially if you’re working from home.

If you are storing the food in your house, you will need to find a storage solution that helps you save space. Tote boxes are fantastic for this sort of thing as they can be both stacked and nested- for when you don’t require them. Plastic boxes will work best at keeping the food fresh for as long as possible.

Speak with Those in Need

Seeing as you’re doing this entire operation to help individuals and families in need, it makes sense to reach out to them and speak to them about what they need.

If you were given recommendations from local organisations, follow up and see if they are willing to use your food bank. You can post flyers and advertise your food bank operation online.

But ultimately, speaking to people face to face will go a long way. Having conversations with those you are intending to help will mean that you can figure out how many people you’ll be providing food for. It’s also important to find out what kinds of food they need and how often they require you to distribute it.