A Food Standards Agency survey published last month found that between April and June last year, 15% of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were food insecure (which means they were facing either reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet, or disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake) and 4% reported visiting a food bank in the past 12 months. But the numbers are believed to have grown considerably. Research by poverty charity Turn2us found that four in 10 of those on universal credit – about 2.5 million people – would be unable to afford food after the axing in October of the £20 uplift.
“It’s so distressing to see the numbers of people coming who have never been in this position before,” said Sabine Goodwin of Independent Food Aid Network. “We’re seeing people who hadn’t even had to contemplate using a food bank, who might have been donating to a food bank this time last year. And it’s happening in every part of the country.”
Demand for food banks had been growing since the start of the pandemic, but in recent months, numbers have grown exponentially. Charlotte White, manager of Earlsfield food bank in south-west London, said those relying on them have increased from 25-30 people a week to well over 100 households. “We’re terrified by what we’re seeing,” she said. “In the past two months it has gone crazy, in terms of the volume we’re seeing, but also the complexity of the problems and issues people are coming in with.
Former food bank donors, volunteers and support workers are turning to them, as are growing numbers of families and, for the first time, people with mortgages. “People will say, ‘I used to give to food banks and now I need you.’ We have also had some of our volunteers saying, ‘Could I take a bag today? Is that OK?’.” Broke Not Broken, which runs a food bank in Perth and Kinross, has doubled its opening hours to meet demand and is helping more working people – including families with two working parents.
Lidl has become the first major supermarket in the UK to introduce a new label in stores that will help those who are struggling to pay for their food. In an industry first, the supermarket has launched the ‘Good To Give’ trustmark which aims to diversify the donations to UK food banks. Shoppers looking to donate to food banks can find the labelled food on shelves across all Lidl stores in the UK.
The signage will feature on 30 products across all Lidl GB stores, including tinned fruit, noodles and veg – and it will help those who rely on food banks to get the balanced diet they need. The initiative will highlight carefully selected long-life items that offer a greater variety of nutritional benefits and which can be dropped at food donation points located past the checkouts in Lidl stores. The items will then be collected regularly by local food banks and community projects.
Lidl GB launched the new trustmark as a response to the cost of living crisis, with over 9 in 10 charities believing that it will have a significant impact on their organisation and the communities that they serve. The ‘trustmark’ was developed by Lidl in consultation with Neighbourly – a platform that connects surplus food with local good causes – after 87% of charities reported needing a greater range of food types to be donated to help those in need have a healthy, balanced diet.
Neighbourly is an award-winning giving platform that helps businesses make a positive impact in their communities by donating volunteer time, money and surplus products, all in one place. In the UK, 1 in 3 children are living in poverty and an estimated 14 million people, one fifth of the nation’s population, are suffering in ‘impossible situations’ where paying bills and putting food on the table can be incredibly difficult. Through the partnership with Neighbourly, Lidl has identified 30 food items that are ‘Good to Give’, modelled on the NHS Eatwell Guide.
The products selected include tinned fruit, lentils, mackerel, noodles, and brown rice. The launch is an industry first and forms part of Lidl’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that good food is accessible to everyone, especially at a time of financial uncertainty. Ryan McDonnell, Chief Executive Officer at Lidl GB, said: “At Lidl, we’re committed to making good food accessible to everyone and now, more than ever, it’s important that we stay true to this.”
“We’ve been listening to feedback from our charity partners on how we can best support them at this time. Through these conversations it became clear we can play a leading role in helping those relying on food banks to maintain a more nutritious, balanced diet by encouraging our customers to donate a little differently. We hope that more retailers will adopt the ‘Trustmark’ so that we can work together as an industry to help more people access the balanced and nutritious diet that they need.”
Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, added: “Through our work with local charities and good causes, supported by our latest community insights surveys, we can see how the cost of living crisis is causing steep rises in demand for food banks and front-line services. This is only going to increase in the coming months. With the launch of this new initiative, Lidl is demonstrating that they are truly committed to finding innovative ways to support their customers and local communities.”
Lidl has also launched its £500,000 ‘Lidl Community Fund’ to support of its UK network of 1,500 charities coordinated by Neighbourly. Organisations within Lidl’s network can apply on a quarterly basis for investment in refurbishment of food preparation or food serving areas, improvement of food storage capabilities and direct access to food products.
The label will be added to long-life items that offer a variety of nutritional benefits, making them ideal to donate to food banks. Shoppers will be able to buy the labelled items and can drop them in the store’s food donation points, where items will be collected by local food banks and community projects. The aim of this is to diversify UK food bank donations with foods covered in the NHS Eatwell Guide. The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a day or even a week. It states that you should also eat a wide range of foods to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet and your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs. But how are people to achieve this when they can’t afford good, nutritious food?
Here are the 30 Items that will feature the Good To Give label:
- Freshona Pickled Gherkins Reduced Salt 720ml
- Italian Cherry Tomatoes 425ml
- Freshona Crinkle Cut Beetroot Salt Reduced 720ml
- Freshona Marrowfat Processed Peas 300g
- Freshona Sweetcorn Super Sweet 425ml
- Freshona Garden Peas 425ml
- Freshona Sliced Mushrooms 314ml
- Freshona Petit Pois & Baby Carrots 425ml
- Freshona Pineapple Slices in Juice 580ml
- Freshona Mandarin Segments in Juice 314ml
- Crownfield Wholegrain Mini Wheats 500g
- Crownfield Wheat Biscuits (36) 720g
- Taste Of… Basmati Rice 1kg
- Taste Of… Brown Rice 1kg
- Langkorn Long Grain Rice 1kg
- Simply Peeled Potatoes 580ml
- Rowan Hill Bakery Part Baked Rolls 300g
- Rowan Hill Bakery Burger Buns 6 Piece 300g
- Couscous 1kg
- Vitasia Medium Ready to Wok Noodles
- Freshona Cannellini Beans / Butter Beans 400g
- Nixe Skipjack Tuna 400g
- Freshona Red Kidney Beans 425ml
- Freshona Chickpeas in Water 425ml
- Freshona Mixed Beans in Water 425ml
- Nixe Mackerel in Sunflower Oil 125ml
- Tower Gate All Butter Shortbread Fingers 210g
- Tower Gate Chocolate Chip cookies 200g
- Dairy Manor UHT Semi Skimmed Milk 1.5% 1l
- Vemondo Oat Milk 1l
The labels have already been popping up in stores across the UK. Alongside the labels, Lidl also launched the Lidl Community Fund to support its UK network of 1.500 charities, providing investment into the charities.
Lidl wants to play their part in helping to tackle hunger, by ensuring that their food surplus benefits the people that need it the most. That’s why they launched Feed it Back, their nationwide food surplus redistribution network , which connects all of their stores to good causes in their areas, such as charities and food banks. Not only does this enable each Lidl store to donate edible food surplus at a local level, it also helps to bring their store teams even closer to the communities they serve.
It would be great if other stores and/or food manufacturers followed suite. It’s a simple label addition for manufacturers and a drop box in stores linked to food banks that will help people get the food they need to feed their families.