One of my friends on Facebook (yes, I have some friends and yes, I sometimes use Facebook) posted about a “reverse Advent Calendar”. The idea is that instead of opening your own Advent Calendar every day and eating a chocolate, you do the opposite and donate an item of food to a food bank or local charity.
I like this idea very much. My cupboards have enough food for my needs. Maybe your cupboards do too? I can give away a dozen or more food items and I’m happy to top up that to the 25 that would make an “Advent Calendar”.
Keep it simple, brothers and sisters
My initial thoughts are this stuff must be (a) easily transportable and (b) the contents must be ok stored until given to the recipient, maybe for a week, two weeks or more.
From a food safety point of view, this means that fresh and frozen (and refrigerated) foods aren’t going to be suitable here. We need to stick to non-perishable goods, mainly packets, tins etc.
Apart from the transporting, storing and food safety, there is another good reason for this. If you’re someone who needs the services of a food bank, there is a possibility you don’t have access to a full kitchen. Maybe you don’t have a fridge. Maybe all you’ve got is a microwave, or a single cooking ring in your room.
It’s also important to remember that you’re not trying to create a comprehensive store cupboard for a stranger. Your job is to donate food staples to the food bank or charity who can then get your items to the people who need them. For this reason, I have not included pasta, rice or cereals in my box as these are already among the most commonly-donated items (more on this below).
What’s in the box?
Here is what I’m planning to put in my box. Everything in it is dairy-free, egg-free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians too.
- Minestrone/broth mix (just add water and boil for 10 minutes)
- Instant coffee
- Instant mashed potato
- Long-life apple juice
- Long-life soy milk
- Peanut butter
- Pasta sauce (non-meat versions, for widest audience)
- Curry sauce (mild one is best, I think)
- Vegetable cup-a-soups (better value than tinned soups)
- Tinned chickpeas
- Tinned sweetcorn
- Tinned mixed beans
- Tinned mixed peas/carrots
- Tinned peaches
- Bag of soy mince (dry, just add water to hydrate it)
- Betty Crocker cake mix (add a can of fizzy drink, cook, and you’ve got a cake, minimum effort)
- Biscuits (Tesco’s dark chocolate digestives are suitable for vegans, yesss)
- Vegetable oil
- Dairy-free, dark chocolate
- Long-life pitta breads in vacuum-pack. Carbs when you need them.
- A tin opener, for all those tins
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Washing-up liquid
Make a difference
I’m going to start assembling my box this weekend so I welcome your suggestions too. More importantly, please share this post and encourage others to make their boxes too. If you have a blog or an Instagram page, please share the message there. Post it as your own if you want, it’s fine by me.
If you’re in the UK and you want to know where your local food bank is, please go to The Trussell Trust website (https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/). Their site tells you which items your local foodbank needs right now and what they already have enough of. They are also running a scheme in conjunction with Tesco stores between 29th November and 1st December.
It’s worth mentioning that many of our supermarkets also run a food donation scheme in store, usually with drop-off points near the tills. If there’s no food bank near you, just donate via your supermarket instead.
Thank you in advance for making a difference.