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This year all the UK Money bloggers are getting together to encourage their readers to a make reverse advent calendar during November to donate at the beginning of December.
It’s sad but true – more and more families in the UK are having to rely on food banks during times of financial hardship. Between April 2016 and March 2017 over one million three day food parcels were distributed in the U.K to families that had no other option and no idea where their next meal was coming from.
Christmas can be a particularly tough time of year for those who are struggling to get by and U.K food banks often run low on supplies during the festive period. That’s why this year the UK Money Bloggers have got to together to encourage their readers to create a reverse advent calendar during November. This means parcels can be donated at the beginning of December allowing food banks plenty of time to distribute food to needy families in the run up to Christmas.
What is a Reverse Advent Calendar?
With a Reverse Advent Calendar, rather than having something for yourself each day, such as chocolate or sweets, you donate something each day instead. In the same way a normal advent calendar counts down to Christmas, by the end of November you should have around 25 items ready to be donated to your local food bank. Obviously if you want to do one for the entire month and not just the 25 days then that’s fine too…
November is great a month to do this – it’s a fab way to get into the Christmas spirit without having all the stress and crazy busyness of December. Below I’ve put together a number of ways you can make a start on a Reverse Calendar without having to spend a fortune. Also there’s no need to add an item specifically every day – I plan to grab freebies when I go shopping and then add them a few at a time.
How to Fill your Reverse Advent Calendar For Free
I’ve talked about shopping apps on the blog before and they are a great way to get food items for free – especially if it’s food that your not going eat yourself or something you don’t like. The only slight drawback is that while you get the food for free you still have to have the spare cash to buy it the first place and the wait for a refund.
Some of the best apps for getting food for free are Checkoutsmart, Shopmium, Greenjinn, Clicksnap and Topcashback. Checkout this post for more on these Apps and how to use them.
While there is no guarantee there will be enough freebies during November to fill a box up based on previous years I think there will plenty to at least start filling a box.
To get you started the App Shopmium currently have a FREE bar of Lint Chocolate when you sign up using my referral code KMFUKCCQ
If you are an O2 Customer their app often has goodies in the run up to Christmas which you can claim without having to spend a penny – just show the code in-store.
You could also consider using any loyalty points you may have built up over the course of the year to claim some items for free. Food banks are always desperate for toiletries so a few boots points spent on these instead of something for yourself could go a long way towards helping someone in need. Nectar Points and Tesco Clubcard Points could also see you add to your calendar for nothing – even if you only use £2 or £3 worth.
If you’re a regular shopper at Iceland or Farm Foods it’s really easy to get hold of vouchers for money off a £20 or £30 shop – I seem to get these through the door every single week. If you’re new to couponing why not use these vouchers to add a few items for the food bank to your shop without having to spend any extra money.
For less than a Fiver – Spend £1 each week on 5 items
Another way I am adding to my Reverse Advent Calendar is by setting aside a small amount each week – by buying budget items, such as those in Asda’s smart price range you could easily add 25 items to your box for less than a fiver
Really Can’t Afford to Donate? Here’s some other ways you can help.
- Carrier Bags – Since the introduction of the 5p charge for carrier bags more and more people are keeping hold of their carrier bags, which is brilliant for the environment but not so good for charity shops and food banks who reply on people using them when they drop off donations. Delivering shopping to needy families in carrier bags rather than trolleys is much more discreet for those involved.
- Donate Your Time – Most Food Banks are run by volunteers so donating your time could be just as useful as donating food.
- Fundraising – Fundraising on behalf of your local food bank is great way to help when you can’t afford to donate yourself find out more here on the Trussel Trust’s website
It’s a good idea to check in with your local food bank before to check what sort of items they are in need of. Some have an abundance of baked beans and dried pasta but are desperate for items such as UHT milk and toiletries and even loo rolls! The Trussell Trust run the majority of the Food Banks in the U.K and you can find your nearest one using this link. I plan to donate mine in person but many have drop off points in local supermarkets.
Food Banks don’t accept alcohol or perishable foods – even some items that might seem like a nice Christmas treat (mince pies for example!) actually have a pretty short shelf life. If you decide to donate any items that have been lurking at the back of your cupboards make sure they are still in date with a few months left.
If making a Reverse Advent box isn’t your thing you could also consider making a monetary donation to your local Food Bank Instead.
If you plan to join me with making a Reverse Advent Calendar I would love to see your pics – whether you plan to fill it for free, for a fiver or full luxury goods whatever you donate will go a long way to help families in need this Christmas.
- Send me your pics on twitter using the hashtag #foodbankadvent
- I’ll be posting all the freebies I find to add to my box in my Facebook Group – I’d love for your to join and show me your pics there too!