Posts Tagged 'Allergies'

Considerate giving: food bank donation for special diets

28 April 2023 at 11:24

Considerate Giving: food bank donations to help those with dietary restrictions

Many of us regularly add a couple of items to our weekly shop to donate to a food bank. Some supermarkets publish lists of the items they are short of, which is very useful to avoid too many shoppers donating the same thing. But have you considered donations for those who suffer food allergies, intolerances or have other restrictions on their diet?


According to Allergy UK, a staggering 45% of the population may be affected by food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance; with the most common culprits being lactose, gluten, nuts, eggs and soy. On top of that, around 14% of British people are estimated to be either vegetarian or vegan – this may be through choice, religious belief or for health reasons.

Unfortunately “free from” and vegan foods are often more expensive than their counterparts, which makes it even more difficult for someone who is already struggling to afford the weekly shop. But there are some hacks which allow you to donate foods that can be tolerated by more people:

Gluten free choices

Breakfast cereals based on corn or rice are usually gluten free – you don’t have to go to the gluten free section to find them, normal cornflakes are fine. Plain rolled oats are widely tolerated, high in fibre and great value for money. Breakfast cereals based on whole grains or multi-grain may sound healthy, but are unsuitable for someone with a gluten intolerance.

Rice, millet and quinoa are well tolerated and are good choices of grain – with rice being the cheapest and the one that people are more likely to be confident using. Check the cooking time as short grain brown rice takes three times longer to cook than white basmati, so with soaring electricity bills people may appreciate quicker cooking varieties. Look out for supermarket ‘own-brand’ gluten free pasta – this is much cheaper than specialist pastas like pea and lentil pasta. Couscous is made from wheat so avoid this.

Lactose free choices

If someone is lactose intolerant a safe option is eating vegan foods, as these won’t contain any milk. However, vegan foods based on soya are best avoided, as soy is a common allergy. There are plenty of long-life milk alternatives that are not based on nuts or soya.

As for treats - dark chocolate is usually milk free – there is no need to fork out for special vegan chocolate, just check the ingredients list. Inclusions (e.g. caramel pieces) often contain butter, so unflavoured chocolate is likely to be best.

Tinned products

If someone is wheat or lactose intolerant but is not vegan, plain canned fish (like tuna, mackerel or sardines) is a healthy option – high in protein and essential fats. Tinned beans are wonderful as they are high in fibre and minerals like iron and magnesium. As well as making a great base for a vegan meal, beans can be used by meat eaters to stretch a dish (e.g. by adding to mince). Tinned vegetables are always needed, as food banks cannot accept fresh food. When looking at tins, avoid anything heavily processed or in sauce - as this could contain gluten or lactose. The less processed, the better!


And what about hygiene products? Sensitivity to chemicals can also cause issues for some people. Soaps, deodorant, toilet roll and shower gels are always needed by food banks, and while it might be tempting to choose coconut infused loo roll or a delicious fruity flavour shower gel, choosing a fragrance-free hypoallergenic product means it can be used by the whole family - even better if it is safe for babies and young children.






Long life oat or hemp milk

Nut and soya milks, as these are common allergens

Breakfast cereals

Cornflakes, Rice crispies, rolled oats

Weetabix, bran flakes, multi-grain cereals, muesli (likely to contain gluten and/or nuts)

Tinned food

Vegetable soups, bean casseroles, tinned vegetables, canned fish without sauce, tinned beans without sauce.

Recipes containing grains. Anything in creamy sauce which may contain milk. Other sauces may contain flour as a thickener.


Plain rice, quinoa, millet

Couscous, which is made from wheat. Packets of flavoured rice. 

Dried pulses

Lentils or anything with a quick cooking time

Larger beans (e.g. butter beans) which require several hours to boil


Any gluten-free variety

Normal pasta – this is commonly donated by other shoppers


Dark chocolate (70% or over) which is usually milk free

Milk or nut chocolate, or anything with caramel pieces which contain butter


Hypoallergenic, fragrance free, sensitive varieties

Fragranced or coloured products can cause a reaction in sensitive people

Final thought

With restricted diets and chemical sensitivity becoming ever more common, make a pledge to be thoughtful about the choices you make for your next food bank donation.

Someone, somewhere will really appreciate the effort!




Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Tags: Allergies | Gluten Intolerance | Food banks

Posted in Health | Nutrition

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Posted in Education | Nutrition