Christmas is a very expensive time even if you are in work.
For many people Christmas will be a real struggle as more and more people (even those in work) are relying on food banks to help feed their family so that they do not go hungry.
It is much worse during the cold season as often families will have to decide between heating the home or eating.
The food banks are struggling to cope with demand and that is why they are asking everyone who can afford to make the reverse advent calendar.
We are all familiar with the traditional Christmas Advent Calender. You open one of the doors on the calendar each day during Christmas and get your gift. Usually chocolates or similar. If you are like me then all the chocolates are eaten well before 24th December!
The reverse advent calendar is very different. You will need to get a box and add items that the food bank would need until you have 25 items – then take the box to the local food bank
By doing this it is a small gesture to ensure that someone in your local area will not go without food (or other essentials) during Christmas. Remember that Christmas is for everyone.
What to put in the Reverse Advent Calender
- Tinned goods including soup, fruit, beans, tomatoes, tuna, tinned veg or tinned meat
- Dried pasta
- Toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair brushes, shower gel, deodorant, sanitary protection
- Toilet rolls
- Washing powder
- Chocolates and sweets
- Christmas crackers
- Christmas Puddings
- Mince pies
- Christmas cakes
- Christmas cards
- All types of cereals
- Baby food
- Tea bags
- Hats and scarves
Hints and tips for the reverse advent calendar
- Ask your local food bank of the types of products they urgently need
- Make sure the goods are not passed their sell by date
- Get your children involved – perhaps they can buy a product with their pocket-money
- Why not make some edible mince pies – if you are already making some for Christmas you could include those as well
- Keep an eye out for coupons and discount codes for items that you wouldn’t use yourself but would make ideal items for the food bank
- Get the bargains when you see them in the supermarket and bargain shops which will good for toiletries. Poundland stores have some great items
- When you get a buy one get one free offer add one of the items to the box.
- Check your local supermarket World Food Aisle as they offer cheaper products it is just the names that are different.
- A large cardboard box is ideal (and often the supermarkets can give you one for fee). Everything is sorted by the volunteers at the food bank so do not worry about the style of the box. If you can add some plastic bags as well that would be great as the volunteers can use them for giving the donations to the needy.
- Add some herbs in the pack. A lot of the food donated will be plain food so by adding some herbs it will make the food tastier.
- Foodbanks are run by volunteers, consider volunteering or donating long-term – or bring them a small gift of a box of chocolates or wine to show that they are appreciated.
- Ask your friends or work colleagues to also donate
When should I donate
The best time is now. When you are out doing your weekly shop this week why not start adding extra items and why not spend a few minutes checking out your store cupboard to see if there are items you can donate. Also have a look around your home to see if you have any items you do not use anymore and add include them as well.
Ideally try to get the items to the food bank well before Christmas so the volunteers can make sure the goods are distributed to the needy well before Christmas.
Where is my local food bank?
The Trussell Group https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/
If you cannot find a food bank in your area why not contact your local CItizen Advice Bureau and they can put you in touch with one.
Remember that Christmas is for sharing so why not do your bit. This would be the best present you can give a total stranger.