Food Banks

Please see details & links to all existing food banks / developing community larders in Devon as spreadsheet, or map.

Use this to access provision yourself, to see how to donate food or money, or to share with others in need.

Coronavirus Update (last edited 8/5/20):

  • Are food banks still able to operate? Yes! – from both church and secular buildings. Provided they follow social distancing rules, they qualify as ‘key work’ providing care for vulnerable people – see Church of England and Trussell Trust guidance.  Volunteer numbers are down (as many are 70+, etc) whilst need has gone up; and referrals are harder to make – so streamlining innovations have been needed. New venues and approaches  are also successfully emerging ((eg delivery only, ‘community larders’, and helplines). See spreadsheet for evolving updates, and our ‘Swapping People In Pews For Parcels Of Food‘ article from May 2020 for inspiring examples.
  • How can we best help at the moment? Whilst money is always welcome, donations of food and other requested items are particularly wanted, where possible. This is for two reasons:  1) Many supermarkets are limiting how much food people can buy – including even volunteers buying for food banks (although Trussell Trust foodbanks have an agreement with Tesco). 2) As more of us are self-isolating and buying food online, donations in supermarket collection points are actually decreasing.
  • How do I donate? Please see details on the spreadsheet as to where donations are currently received for each food bank – address/opening times of food bank itself, local shops etc. (Church buildings are generally closed now, but Some food banks actually based at churches are still open for this purpose only)
  • What about people who are self-isolating? Food banks generally require referrals from specialist agencies – for existing service-users who are now self-isolating, many food banks are now delivering. Please see our separate coronavirus community support page for information about mutual aid for other people who are self-isolating but aren’t in financial crisis.
  • How can we set up our own local provision? As will be seen, there are many foodbanks across Devon, which have adapted amazingly – it’s best to support these rather than reinventing the wheel. However, as more people are furloughed or lose jobs during lockdown/ongoing recession, it’s likely there will be new more localised need – perhaps as a ‘community larder’ with less formalised referral processes. Buckfastleigh has a well-established Trussell Trust food bank, now operating from St Luke’s church and led by their clergy team. They have already helped Ashburton develop their service, and would be happy to speak with other churches. Rev Laura McAdam is curate and used to work for Christian Aid – please email Laura or call 07341 258852. Their template volunteer agreement and flowcharts can be seen here. And please email Chris Keppie to share news of your new initiatives!


How can I help*? (not all are possible in lockdown…)

Why are food banks important?

The leading network of food banks, the Trussell Trust, suggests that in 2020 “More than 14 million people in the UK live below the poverty line”. Food banks aim to provide nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis (for instance by advice agencies, GPs, social services and schools). Most food banks provide short-term provision (eg 3-14 day parcels) to meet immediate needs but prevent dependence, whilst supporting or signposting people to resolve their particular challenges or crises in the longer term.

In 2018/19, over 24,000 food parcels were given to families in Devon, up again from the previous year  – Read More. Demand is likely to increase significantly in 2020 due to coronavirus, the potential closures of schools (and thus lack of free school meals), and wider economic impacts.

What kind of donations are wanted? Please see details on each individual food banks website or call to check. However, food banks generally need supplies of all tinned, dried or long-life items. A typical food parcel might include: breakfast cereal, longlife milk, soup, pasta, rice, pasta sauce, tinned beans, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, tinned puddings, tea or coffee, sugar, biscuits and snacks. Many foodbanks also collect baby food, baby milk, disposable nappies, washing up liquid, washing powder, soap, dry/canned dog and cat food. If part of wider Covid-19 support groups, some even operate ‘book banks’ and deliver hearing aid batteries etc.

Click for details and links to all known food banks in Devon as  Google sheet. Use this to access provision yourself (referral usually needed), to see how to donate food/money, or to signpost others.

If you live in or near Cornwall, please see information from Transformation Cornwall which may be useful.