Food is a right; we deserve access to nutritious, healthy and delicious food no matter who we are. Unfortunately, many in Sheffield are struggling to access food in these difficult times, and winter can worsen this issue as we try to keep up with heating our homes too. Issues with food access are almost always a result of poverty which is invariably caused by a lack of support in education, work and society and is not the fault of the individuals struggling to put food on the table. It is essential to know where to turn when you find it challenging to keep up with your weekly groceries and don’t have anything left in the cupboards.
The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of over 1200 food banks and provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. If you’re in financial crisis in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, you can call their helpline at 0808 2082138 for free (open Monday to Friday, 9 am-5 pm) to talk confidentially to one of their trained Citizens Advice advisers. They will speak to you about the problems you’re facing and provide support to help you manage your money, navigate the benefits system, and identify any other grants you might be entitled to. Then, if you need one, they’ll issue you with a food bank voucher so you can get an emergency food parcel.
Food Banks & Support in Sheffield
If you would rather speak to someone local, your local food bank can tell you which referral agencies they work with in Sheffield and how you can get a voucher. There are many Trussell Trust-supported food banks in Sheffield and several other community, faith and charitable food banks throughout the city. Check out the Sheffield Food Bank Network website (www.sheffieldfoodbank.org.uk) to find your nearest local food bank. In many cases, you will need a third party who is already supporting you (such as a GP, Social Worker, or tenancy support worker) to make arrangements on your behalf to access a food bank. Sheffield Money Support group also has some fantastic resources to help local people easily find accurate information about money support services in our city. Visit their website for more info (sheffieldmoneysupport.co.uk).
The Food Delivery Project from Foodhall uses food that would otherwise go to waste to produce lovely frozen meals cooked by volunteers and delivered to your house by volunteers on bicycles. You need to live in one of these areas: Arbourthorne, Broomhall, Highfield, Manor or Sharrow, be in need of food support and be referred by a community or health organisation. FDP do not use meat or fish, so all meals are suitable for halal diets. There is no minimum charge for meals, but people are asked to contribute if they can afford it.
If you are looking to reduce costs but are not in an emergency, some fantastic organisations in Sheffield offer low-cost food options for shopping and eating out. The Food Works Sheffield collects and shares surplus food from supermarkets and restaurants. They make all the food they receive available to the local community through a box scheme, their cafés and frozen ready meals ‘Just Meals’. The box scheme and Just Meals are available on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis with a minimum contribution of £1.00 each. With organisations like this, you can access healthy food options without breaking the bank and save food waste from going to the landfill.
Food Sharing Apps
One unusual way you might not have thought to get free or low-cost food is through a food-sharing app. A food-sharing app is used to donate, deliver, and find people who want to participate in food sharing. You can find businesses with surplus food to share that may be going in the bin at the end of the day if not picked up. Some organisations offer their food for free, and others discount it heavily to ensure it is sold. You can download many on the app store to your smartphone for free. Olio is a popular app for free food listings for neighbours and businesses, and there is an active community on it currently in Sheffield.
Talk to friends and family
While it can be challenging to talk to loved ones about financial struggles, it can help you share the load, even if it’s just to have someone to listen to the problems you’re facing. Let friends and family know that you are having difficulties, and they may offer to cook a meal, help with shopping, and reassure you they don’t expect Christmas gifts or for you to spend money on a meal out. Talking about the challenges we face with others can help you feel supported and make our communities more resilient. It can be a tough thing to face, but you should never struggle in silence. Instead, seek support from friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, and your local community and help others when possible. Food is a right; collectively, we can ensure that no one goes hungry this winter.