Residents who are really struggling with the effects the cost of living is having on food bills are being reminded of the different ways to get help.
Foodbanks, food pantries, community cafes and community fridges are all available locally for people who need support to feed themselves and their families.
Each service differs in what it offers and there are different routes to access each type of support which not everyone may be aware of, so Bath & North East Somerset Council is signposting people to the help available and how to get it.
A new ‘Affordable Food in B&NES’ matrix has been added to the Bath and North East Somerset Food finder website listing all the food clubs and pantries that offer affordable food or emergency food parcels and their opening times and days covering Monday to Saturday each week.
The food support available includes:
- Foodbanks – free at the point of use and for emergencies where food is urgently needed because a household has little or nothing. They provide mainly store-cupboard ingredients in packs designed to last a household three days and contents can be tailored to people’s needs. A referral and voucher are needed from the council’s welfare support team, the Community Wellbeing Hub or a third party organisation. Food is sourced through donations and additional support services including money advice are often available.
- Food Pantries and Food Clubs – people on very low incomes can join as a member and do part of their weekly shop at very discounted prices. On average, £3-£5 will buy around £15-£20 worth of high quality foods including fresh, chilled and frozen. Additional support services are often available.
- Community Fridges or Larders – free food is provided on a ‘lucky dip’ basis to anyone in need and no referral or membership is needed. Some community fridges also have freezers so can help to distribute fresh, chilled, frozen and ambient food, often near use-by dates. Community larders usually stock ambient foods only. These services also reduce food waste. Many carry leaflets signposting people to other support services.
- Community Cafés – provide healthy eating options at a low cost and help reduce social isolation by bringing people together. They are usually within organisations offering other support services and often offer employment or work experience to people who are vulnerable or who have additional needs.
Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, and Communities, said: “As the cost of living crisis continues to grip the country, the soaring costs of energy and food are driving increasing numbers of people to seek food support – some of whom have never before had to rely on others. That’s why it’s so important that people know when and where they can get help if they need it.
“The affordable food chart on the B&NES Food Finder is a single point of reference where people can see the services that are available and on what days, which will hopefully make it easier to choose the type of food needed. Working with partner organisations and the many volunteers in B&NES, we are committed to doing all we can to support people in these times of hardship. You can also get help from our welfare support team and the Community Wellbeing Hub.”
There are also food-sharing apps that people can download for free including Olio and Too Good To Go
People can donate non-perishable food items to local foodbanks at all major supermarkets, now including Lidl, and some of the local stores. They will have guides to the foods that are most needed.
Bath Foodbank can receive financial donations which can be made online. Drop-off or collection of substantial food donations, from organisations, can be arranged via email@example.com or by calling 01225 463549.
Keynsham Foodbank and Somer Valley Foodbank also accept financial or food donations and welcomes volunteers.
All the affordable food outlets on the B&NES Food Finder welcome support from their local communities and are happy to take enquiries from anyone who has time and resources to offer.
Children who go to a maintained school or academy in B&NES and whose household receives certain benefits may be eligible for benefit-related free school meals. Find out more and apply here https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals
Help to afford the basics such as food, energy costs, and household items is available from the council’s Welfare Support Scheme.
The council’s Live Well B&NES site has a dedicated Cost of Living Crisis section, including:
- Cost of living support (benefits, energy, food, debt, childcare, & mental health)
- Support services and organisations
- Paying for care and support, planning for future care costs
The Community Wellbeing Hub can be contacted Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Call 0300 247 0050.
Citizens Advice Bath & North East Somerset offers free, confidential, expert advice on benefits, debt, family, housing and more. Offices are in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton, or call free on 0808 278 7897.