Coronavirus: information and updates

Free food and food banks

There are places where you can get free or cheap food. You do not need a referral to use many local food banks and pantries. You will need a referral to use Trussell Trust food banks.

If you will need help getting food home, ask about deliveries.

Free and cheap food with no referral

There are independent food banks and other places you can use without a referral.

You do not need a referral to use:

You can also find more information from:

How to get free or cheap food (MoneySavingExpert)

How to save money on your food bills (Which?)

Vouchers and local food pantries

Ask your local authority about:

  • their crisis fund and emergency supermarket vouchers
  • food partnerships, also called ‘social supermarkets’
  • emergency payments that you do not have to pay back
  • local food pantries

Find your local authority (GOV.UK)

Food banks

Some local food sharing projects and some food banks do not require a referral. These are sometimes called community ‘pantries’ or ‘fridges’. You do not need money to get food from a food bank.

You will need a referral to use Trussell Trust food banks. The person referring you may give you a voucher.

Tell the food bank if you have any dietary requirements. They may be able to swap food items, depending on what they have. For example, gluten-free alternatives.

They should give you at least 3 days of food. This could a lot if you are getting food for your family. Plan how you will get it home.

Using a food bank (Citizens Advice)

Emergency food (The Trussell Trust) 


You can ask for a referral from your:

Apply for free school meals (GOV.UK)

If someone will not give you a referral, someone else could. Asking how to make a formal complaint may also help.

Food parcels and delivery

If you need to use a food bank but cannot travel, ask if they can deliver food parcels.

The Royal Voluntary Service has a transport service.

Find out about transport services in your area (Royal Voluntary Service)

Help with bills

You may be able to get support from your energy supplier.

Getting financial help from your energy supplier

You may be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction from your local authority it you either:

  • need overnight care, or
  • have had your home adapted to make it accessible

If you are the only person over 18 in your household, you may be eligible for a single person Council Tax discount.


Check what benefits you could be entitled to. What you can claim will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you live with a partner or not.

You may now be eligible for means-tested benefits, like Universal Credit.

Calculate your benefits (Turn2us)

Contact the Scope helpline if you need support claiming benefits.

If the DWP has refused your benefits

Find out why the DWP refused your benefits. For example, you:  

  • earn more than DWP limits
  • work more hours than the rules say you can
  • have not earned enough National Insurance credits
  • are waiting for your sick pay to stop if you are claiming ESA

You can:

  • leave a note in your Universal Credit journal
  • call the number for the benefit you think you are eligible for

Contact Jobcentre Plus (GOV.UK)

The first stage of appeal is Mandatory Reconsideration.

Appealing a benefits decision

Last reviewed by Scope on: 19/05/2022

Was this page helpful?

We're sorry to hear that.

Tell us how we can improve it

More on getting essentials

Opens in a new windowOpens an external siteOpens an external site in a new window