Food banks are community organisations that can help if you can’t afford the food you need.
You’ll usually need to get a referral to a food bank before you can use it. This includes all food banks run by the Trussell Trust.
You can get a referral for yourself and any family members you live with - including your partner.
You might be able to use some food banks without a referral - for example, if it’s run by a church. Contact your local food bank to see if you need a referral.
Getting a referral
You can ask Citizens Advice to refer you to a food bank. They'll usually make an appointment for you to discuss your situation with an adviser first.
The adviser will ask you some questions to check you’re eligible for the food bank. If you’re eligible, they’ll give you a voucher for your nearest food bank.
They can also check if you should be getting any benefits you're not currently claiming and tell you about other local help you could get. The adviser can give you advice about budgeting and any debts you have.
If you can't go to Citizens Advice
You can ask for a referral from another organisation - for example your GP, housing association or social worker.
Your local council might be able to tell you how to get a referral to a food bank. You can find your local council's contact details on GOV.UK.
When you contact your local council, ask if they can also help you with other essential costs like clothes and petrol. They might give you help from their ‘household support fund’ or ‘welfare assistance scheme’.
How to find your nearest food bank?
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can provide information and assistance with accessing, or referring you to your local foodbank.
You can also check your local council's website and community information forums for individual food bank services specific to your area.
Additionally, you can contact the Trussell Trust who operate in wider areas:
Operates in most areas and generally are collection only.
Some Trussell Trust foodbanks can be accessed directly without a referral. To access a referral, you can contact either your local Citizens Advice Bureau, local council, or Hightown.
Free or cheap food apps
Olio App: Is an app that connects neighbours so that food and household items can be shared for free.
Too Good To Go: Is an app that lets you rescue unsold food that is very close to use by date from local food spots.
Find your local food bank
Visit Bedfordshire Borough Council or phone 01234 718033 for referrals to the Bedford Foodbank.
Visit Central Bedfordshire council for information on foodbanks and community fridges in your local area.
Visit Luton Council to find your local food bank.
Luton Food Cycle: Attend as a guest and enjoy a free hot meal, no need to book just turn up on the day and enjoy a free hot meal.
Location: Luton Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 1 North Street, Luton, LU2 7QD
Visit www.buckinghamshire.gov.ukand search foodbanks and food sharing to access local food banks and community fridges specific to your area.
Helping Hand: Can assist with providing access to food by offering support and refer you to a local food bank.
Contact their support line: 01296 531151 or email email@example.com
Foodlife: Fresh Food Boxes are delivered to the doorstep by volunteers.
Contact Details: Restore Hope, The Estate Office, Latimer Park, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, HP5 1TU
Phone: 01494 765555 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aylesbury Food Cycle: No need to book, just turn up on the day and enjoy a free hot meal. Aylesbury Vineyard Church The Vineyard Centre Gatehouse Close, Aylesbury, HP19 8DN.
Time: 6 pm
Hemel Community Fridge: On Wednesdays and Saturdays at Highfield Community Centre you can get good surplus food free of charge.
Located at: Highfield Community centre, Fletcher Way, Bellgate, Hemel Hempstead HP2 5SB
Contact: 01442 211668
Operates across Hertfordshire and can provide a food hamper.
Contact Herts Help: 0300 123 4044 or email email@example.com
Bishop Stortford Food Bank: Voucher free system to access a food box.
Contact East Herts Citizens Advice: 01920 459 944 and leave a message (anytime). One of the advisors will call you back (usually within 24 hours, except weekends). The call back will be on a private number.
Citizens Advice: Contact on 01920 459 944 to request a food bank voucher.
One YMCA: Contact 01279 838068 to request a food bank voucher.
Please visit: www.north-herts.gov.uk/food-providers-north-herts for a list of food bank providers in North Herts.
Feed Up Warm Up
Attend: Scout Hut Our Lady Immaculate Church, 16 Nightingale Rd, Hitchin SG5 1QS
Time: Wednesdays 6-8pm, guests can pop by to enjoy a hot meal and a chat, hear some live music, and find practical and emotional help.
Food Rescue: The Food Rescue hub has surplus fresh fruit and veg which would otherwise be thrown away (rescued from local food businesses). Offered on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
The Half Moon Pub, 57 Queen Street, Hitchin, SG4 9TZ 09.30am – 11am Thursday weekly.
Visit: Milton Keynes Council website and complete a local welfare provision application form to apply for help with various support including food.
SOFEA: Support with food through community larders www.sofea.uk.com
The Food Bank: Contact directly to get a voucher to collect a food parcel from one of their 10 serving centres across Milton Keynes.
Contact the helpline: 0300 303 4933, Monday – Friday from 9am or text "HELP" to 07874 964 505. You will be given a 6-digit voucher number to use when you collect your food, and you will need ID.
Milton Keynes Food Cycle: Attend as a guest and enjoy a free hot meal, no need to book just turn up on the day and enjoy a free hot meal.
Address: Seventh Day Adventist Church, Veryan Place Fishermead, Milton Keynes, MK6 2SP.
When: Thursday, Time: 7pm.
St Albans Community Pantry
Provides boxes of fresh produce (as opposed to just non-perishable items) to 400 individuals every week in St Albans and neighbouring villages.
Families receive a box every week for as long as they need. No vouchers are required, and people can self-refer.
These boxes are home delivered to reach the most vulnerable in the community, so that lack of transportation, or health limitations are not an obstacle to receiving the boxes.
Contact: by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and complete a short form, or by phone on 0808 175 3917, or by writing to Unit 9, The Enterprise Centre, Long Spring, St Albans AL3 6EN.
Citizens Advice Stevenage: Can refer residents in need to the Foodshed (Stevenage Vineyard) Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage, SG1 1BY or call: 0800 1448848.
In an emergency, there are two local food hubs which can assist. It may be worth calling ahead if you are able to, just to make sure they can help. Opening times for Foodshed is every Wednesday 12-2pm.
They prefer people to come with a voucher which entitles them to 5 visits. They can give out food based on requirements, e.g. number of children and dependents etc.
If you do not have a voucher, you are still welcome but will not get as much food. The vouchers are available from Citizens Advice Bureau and various schools and support organisations.
Feed Up, Warm Up: North Stand, Lamex Stadium, Stevenage
When: Mondays, 5pm - 7pm, guests can pop by to enjoy a hot meal and a chat, hear some live music, and find practical and emotional help.
To access food bank vouchers:
Contact Three Rivers Council on 01923 776611, or Three Rivers Citizens Advice for help Monday – Friday, 10am - 4pm at: South Oxhey 0208 5158321, Rickmansworth 01923 293136, or Abbots Langley 01923 271707, or your local children’s centre.
Citizens Advice foodbank voucher line: Call 0800 0614808 – 10am – 12pm, Monday -Friday.
To claim your voucher in person visit: St Mary’s Churchyard, High Street, Watford WD17 2BE, Monday – Thursday 9.30am – 12.30pm first come first served.
Contact: 0800 1448848
Visit: Welwyn and Hatfield Council website to access a list of local foodbanks. You may need to contact the foodbank first to obtain a voucher.
New Zion Foodbank: Referral needed.
Address: 140 Cole Green Lane, Welwyn Hatfield, Hatfield, AL7 3JE Email: email@example.com Open: Wednesday – 9am-11am.
Food Rescue Hub: The food rescue hub has surplus fresh fruit and veg which would otherwise be thrown away (rescued from local food businesses). Offered on a pay-as-you-feel basis
Open: 9.30 -11am, every Tuesday
Address: The Attimore Hall, Ridgeway, Welwyn Garden City AL7 2AD.