Social Justice

Volunteers and businesses set up temporary food banks to cover closures on day of Queen's funeral

People are giving up their own bank holidays to make sure their local community have enough to eat this bank holiday

Volunteers at Earlsfield Foodbank sort food in crates in the middle of a church

Volunteers at Earlsfield Foodbank sort food in crates. Image: Charlotte White

Volunteers, charities and businesses are setting up temporary community kitchens so people have enough to eat when food banks shut for the Queen’s funeral. 

More than 700,000 people in the UK rely on food banks, according to Trussell Trust statistics. Many have announced that they will be closed on Monday – as they are every bank holiday – to give volunteers well-deserved time off alongside the rest of the country.

In response, some organisations have announced they will be acting as temporary food banks on the day to make sure people don’t go hungry as people across the country mourn the death of the Queen. The Blankfaces, the “UK’s first fashion brand working towards ending homelessness”, is one of them. 

They said: “On Monday we will be acting as a temporary food bank at 427 great western road. If you know of anyone in need of food or are looking to donate to a food bank, please feel free to pop in. 

Poverty doesn’t stop because ‘a nation mourns’. There are many people starving out there and to us we will not stop and stand still if people need us.”

Also in Glasgow, café Haylynn Canteen is planning on opening a food bank for the day. The team announced on Instagram: “This Monday we will be acting as a temporary food bank, as like others we disagree that poverty should suffer while a nation mourns as food banks across the UK shut.”

Haylynn Canteen is calling for local people to donate particular items so they have enough to give guests. These include cereal, soup, pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, tinned meat, tinned vegetables and others listed on their Instagram

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When Wimbledon Food Bank initially announced it would be closing for the funeral on Monday, it was met with widespread outcry. But, after people stepped up to give up their bank holiday and volunteer, the food bank announced it would be able to open after all.

A spokesperson announced on social media: “Due to the overwhelming support we have received we now have volunteers to run our Monday session as usual.” 

They also took the opportunity to remind people food banks are “not a government service and run solely on people’s donations of time, money and food”. Without people’s good will, food banks would not be able to run at all.

The Independent Food Aid Network added: “Food banks will always do their utmost to help people struggling to afford food but their support should not be needed on a bank holiday or any other day. Food banks cannot be expected to pick up the pieces resulting from a broken benefits system.”

One food bank volunteer said: “We are a charity and if one more person says we should open on Monday, I will scream. The reason we don’t open on a bank holiday is all the paid organisations that provide vouchers for those in need are shut. So we would have no customers to help.”

Another that will stay open on Monday is 0161 Community’s food bank in Manchester, which will be open from noon until 3pm. 

“We are aware that many supermarkets and food banks have taken the decision to close on Monday as a mark of ‘respect’ to the late queen,” a spokesperson said. “We at 0161 Food Bank are not usually open on Mondays, but will be opening specially this coming Monday to offer our support to our communities.”

Brixton Soup Kitchen similarly will be providing hot food and clothing on the bank holiday, between 12pm and 5pm.

Donations will be needed at food banks due to open on Monday. Woodhouse Community Centre in Leeds said, while it will be open, its community fridge will be running low and the team are unlikely to have all the food they need. 

“Our community fridge will be running low,” a spokesperson said, “as our food providers will be shut for the bank holiday. If you can pop down to donate anything to the fridge on Monday it would be really appreciated.”

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