What Happens to the Food You Donate?

Many wonderful people support Swindon Foodbank by donating food to help us help others: THANK YOU!

But have you ever wondered what happens to the food after you drop it into the collecting trolley at the supermarket? If so: Read on...

At the supermarket...

On our supermarket collection days the generous people of Swindon donate an average of 1.5 tonnes of food, all selected from the shopping lists that are handed out. These tins, boxes and packets get taken by the Swindon Foodbank van back to our warehouse.

At the warehouse our volunteers get to work.

1 - First they sort the food into categories - pasta, biscuits, cereals, soup, etc.

2 - Next the food is sorted by the expiry date of each product. Food collected direct from supermarkets is always in date, however when we receive food from other sources any foods which are found to be out of date are removed. Overall about 3-5% of donated stock is unfortunately unusable due to it being out of date.

Most of the items are boxed up by year. Some items, such as long life milk, are boxed up by month. Boxes of tea bags are opened up and re-bagged into amounts of 40 bags.

Labelled up boxes - such as Biscuits 2015 or Milk Mar 2014 are then stacked up on the Storage racking.

3 - Now the foodboxes for distribution are assembled. Each foodbox is created to contain food for 3-4 days either for a single person, a couple, or a family. The food is taken in date order - so that food which is earliest in expiry date is selected first , and is selected from pre-determined lists. For example, a box for a family; couple with two children would contain:

5 tins of beans 3 packets of biscuits 2 packets of cereal 
2 cartons long life milk  2 cartons fruit juice  3 tins of fish 
3 tins of meat  3 tins of fruit  2 tins of potatoes 
2kg of pasta or rice  2 jars/packets of cooking sauce  3 tins of pudding 
5 tins of soup  4 tins of spaghetti/ravioli etc. 1kg sugar  
3 tins of tomatoes 4 tins vegetables 80 teabags & a jar of coffee


4 - The assembled foodboxes are transported to any of our current 5 distribution centres throughout the borough. Here they await distribution to clients. Our volunteers typically put together 76 Foodboxes per week.

A box of any ‘miscellaneous extras’ is also taken to the distribution centre.

5 - When clients come in with a Foodbank voucher (given to them by one of our partners) our volunteers greet them and offer them refreshments and exchange the voucher for the appropriate food box for their circumstances. The food is repacked in plastic carrier bags - that way the client can leave with their bags of food like any other shopper, and not feel any stigma from having received the food. Clients are also given a choice of one or two miscellaneous extras; that could be anything from jam to baby food. At Christmas we additionally offer a hamper of "treats" and Easter eggs for the children at Easter :-)

While waiting the Clients can sit and have a hot drink with biscuits and a chat with volunteers ready to offer a listening ear and sign post them to other agencies that may be able to help them in their circumstances.

6 - The food is taken home and eaten!

All this is only possible thanks to our fantastic volunteers, and all their work in the warehouse and distribution centres. Thanks to them, and the food that many people across Swindon donate - on average over 120 people are being fed each week who might otherwise be going hungry.