Using a food bank
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.
Getting a referral
A good place to ask for a referral is your nearest Citizens Advice. Tell them you need the food bank - they'll probably make you an appointment to discuss your situation with an adviser.
The adviser will ask you some questions about your income and needs. They can 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 also give you advice about budgeting and any debts you have.
The adviser can refer you to your nearest food bank, if you're eligible.
If you can't go to Citizens Advice
You can ask for a referral from an organisation that’s already supporting you - for example, a charity, school or children’s centre.
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 them, ask if there's a local welfare assistance scheme that can help you as well as the food bank. You might be able to get vouchers for things like clothes or petrol.
Going to a food bank
When an organisation refers you to a food bank, they’ll give you a voucher and tell you where the food bank is. If it's run by the Trussell Trust you can check the address on their website.
The food bank will give you a food parcel. They can also tell you where to get advice about your income and spending.
If you live in a rural area and can't afford to travel, your nearest food bank might be able to deliver. Call or email them to check.
If the food bank's run by a church or other religious group, they'll still help you if you're not religious or from a different religion.
If you need to use the food bank again
If you needed a referral to use the food bank, you'll need to get another one before you go back.
If you've been told your food bank has a limit on the number of times you can visit, it's still worth asking if you really need the food. If you're in this situation, talk to an adviser.
The adviser will ask you some questions about why you still need to use the food bank. They'll refer you if they agree it's the best way to help you. Even if they can't refer you they'll give you advice on debt or problems with benefits if you need it.
Check if you can get extra help if you're on benefits or your benefits have stopped
If you're over 18, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to check which benefits you can get.