THE VALUE OF FOODBANKS EXTENDS WELL BEYOND THE FOOD

First Published: 26 March 2018

The value of foodbanks goes well beyond the food they provide, offering social contact and a safe place where users find care, dignity and respect.

The value of foodbanks goes well beyond the food they provide, offering social contact and a safe place where users find care, dignity and respect, according to new research released today by the University of Glasgow.

Conducted by the University’s GoWell Programme, the research examined the scale of food bank use in 15 communities in Glasgow, each of which lie within the 15% most deprived in Scotland.

It found that those affected by welfare reforms were more likely to use a foodbank. It also showed that young single men and those with mental health problems were also more likely to use a foodbank.

But while foodbanks cannot solve the problem of food insecurity, they offer valuable social support and could be an example to other organisations of how to treat people in difficult circumstances with dignity, care and respect.

The research, conducted by Professor Ade Kearns and researchers Mary Anne MacLeod and Louise Lawson, was in two parts – a household survey and follow up in-depth interviews.

The survey results are published in a research paper called Understanding the prevalence and drivers of foodbank use: evidence from deprived communities in Glasgow and published in the journal Social Policy & Society.

Professor Kearns said: “Our research shows that foodbanks are a course of last resort for many people and cannot be relied on to tackle the scale of food insecurity in our poorest communities.

“However, in debates about the future of foodbanks, it is important to recognise their value to users beyond the food itself, so that the ability to offer contact and support to often isolated individuals with complex needs is extended rather than reduced as food aid is reformed”.

The household survey was conducted in 15 deprived communities in Glasgow. It has produced the first estimate of the prevalence of foodbank use anywhere in the UK.

It found that 4.2% or 1-in-25 households in these poorer communities had used a foodbank in the past year.

However, it also found that a further 3.8% of households were categorised as “non-accessors” – those who said they ‘had not wanted to use a food bank’ or ‘had not been able to use or access a food bank (without a referral)’. Only 15% of those who reported having difficulty paying for food also reported having used a food bank.

The survey analysis also revealed some of the main drivers of foodbank use:- 

  • Financial factors were important, not least the impacts of UK Government welfare reforms since 2010.
  • The more welfare reforms people were affected by, the more likely they were to use a foodbank.
  • The likelihood of being a foodbank user were higher for those out of work and who were long-term sick or disabled.
  • The link between foodbank use and poor health was further emphasised by the high rate of foodbank use among those with a mental health problems, of whom 10% were users and a further 6 % were “non-accessors”.
  • Foodbank use was highest among single adults with no family or friends to fall back on in times of need.

The second part of the research involved follow-up, in-depth interviews with foodbank users. The outcome of these interviews mirrored the survey, showing not only a link between foodbank use and poverty but also foodbank use and social isolation.

Professor Kearns said: “We found that people appreciate the role of the foodbank in helping them through an acute financial crisis. But we also found that users of foodbanks also valued the social contact and support offered by foodbank staff and volunteers, sometimes in a café atmosphere. Some people became regular users of foodbanks for this reason, as much as for the food.

“And we found that there was huge praise and appreciation for the dignity, respect and care users were treated with when they went to a foodbank for help. Many people felt they did not get this from other agencies dealing with things like benefits or employment issues. Many commented that this positive treatment at a foodbank gave them back some of their humanity when often they felt ashamed and guilty at having to access this help in the first place.”

The qualitative research is published as Food and Beyond: Exploring the Foodbank Experience and is available at: www.gowellonline.com

University of Glasgow – University news – Archive of news – 2018 – April – The Value of Foodbanks Extends Well Beyond the Food

Social Support from The Gate

As an essential part of the community did you know that we are a centre for socialising, connecting and a place of support. For further information visit our website and social media pages or email enquiries@the-gate-charity.org

How to use The Gate Foodbank

Can I just turn up at the foodbank?

The prerequisite to benefit from a food parcel is that you must be referred by, Social Work, Citizen’s Advice, GP, Nurse, or Housing Officer.

We recommend the best place to start if you need a referral would be Citizen’s Advice. They will put you in contact with an advisor, who will determine what benefits are available to you and advise on how you can access these. You can contact Clackmannanshire Citizen’s Advice here:https://www.clackscab.org.uk/

When it has been decided that you would benefit from a referral, the referrer shall submit the request on your behalf. You will then receive a text from us to confirm your need to attend to collect your parcel. You will be given a collection code and a time to come along.  

How many times can I use the foodbank?

Typically, you can have a maximum of four food parcels issued to you. Foodbank support is designed to be a short-term solution and here at the Gate we wish to assist with sustainable solutions if your need is long-term.

Even if you have been told that there is a finite number of times that you can visit the foodbank, if you are genuinely in need, it can be helpful to ask. If we can’t help with food provision, we may still be able to connect you to other meaningful in help.

Closures due to weather

The Gate Charity follows the local authority inclement weather policy. If Clackmannanshire Schools close due to inclement weather, we will also close. Closing or cancelling our services due to weather will be posted on The Gate Charity Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100075959153674

What to donate to our foodbank – some general tips


ALL donations are very gratefully received, but here are ideas for particularly helpful items:

  • Multipacks of individually wrapped items.
  • Items that don’t need to be cooked. Rising energy prices mean a lot of people are requesting items that don’t require an oven, for example, things that can be prepared with just a kettle.
  • Items that already include herbs and spices. People accessing foodbanks might have limited seasonings to hand to make a flavoursome meal, so foods that come with those things already are a great idea, for instance, tinned tomatoes that include garlic or herbs.
  • Items that can turn pasta/rice into a full meal. Pasta and rice tend to be donated frequently, so it’s helpful to donate complementary items (for example, pasta sauce, tinned vegetables) that can turn them into a meal.

What not to donate…


While all kinds of donations are gratefully received, there are a few things you should avoid giving:

  • Items past expiry date. All food distributed must be within the expiry (or ‘use by’) date on the label. Anything past that date will have to be disposed of. Past ‘best before’ is fine so long as it’s still within the expiry date. (Confused by ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates? See https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/best-before-and-use-by-dates for clarity.)
  • Items no longer in original packaging or without the shop’s own labelling. If you’ve decanted the food into another container or removed the labels, it can’t be accepted.
  • Anything you wouldn’t eat yourself.  A good measure for deciding whether something is suitable: do not donate anything that you or a loved one wouldn’t want to eat.

❌❌CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER ❌❌ Family Meal Night – Friday the 20th of October

Come along to our FREE family meal night where we will be serving soup, spaghetti, mince & tatties and jelly with ice cream. No booking necessary, just show up at 4pm this Friday the 20th of October. BRING TUPPERWARE for any leftovers! See you all there.

Toy Sale – Saturday, 28th of October 10am-2pm

We have so much stock, come early to get first pick! Please bring your own bags.

Annual General Meeting – November 28th at 2pm

Come along to our AGM meeting at 2 Ludgate, Alloa, FK10 2DR. No need to book, just come along!

What’s On at The Gate October 2023

Our October 2023 timetable is ready, we have a lot going on this month and our events are already almost fully booked so make sure you get in there fast. More details to follow on the Family Meal on 20.10.23 and the Toy Sale on 28.10.23

Christmas Market at The Gate (25 November 2023)

We will be having our Christmas Market at 2 Ludgate, Alloa on the 25th of November 10am-2pm. We are already at full capacity with stalls.

We encourage you to come along and see what exciting things you could buy and give as Christmas gifts to your loved ones!