accessing free and cheap food in the uk

The current socio-economic crisis means that the price of food and energy have risen, and many people are struggling to afford to buy and cook food at home.


There are places you can turn to, to access food, if you are on a low income or just struggling financially. In this resource we share vital information on local and national initiatives to share cheaper and lower cost food.

free and cheap food

food banks:

  • There are over 2,500 food banks across the UK. Many of these food banks are part of the Trussell Trust network – you can find your local food bank here.
  • You can find independent food banks that aren’t part of the Trussell Trust network here, or by searching ‘food banks in ____ (insert your area)’ on Google.
  • Many food banks require you to be referred. You can do this by contacting Citizens Advice who can refer you. If you have a Caseworker at akt they can also refer you for a food parcel.
  • If you are unable to get a referral it’s worth contacting your local food bank anyway to see if they will issue you with a food parcel and arrange a follow-up assessment.

community pantries:

As well as food banks, many organisations run food pantries, where you can pay a small amount (e.g. £2.50) to purchase food and other supplies. You can find your local community pantry here.

Two men holding each other.

surplus food schemes and discounted food:

Every year businesses and individuals throw away 9.5 million tonnes of food worth over £19 billion. In order to tackle food waste – and help those on a low income to access good quality, affordable food – apps like Too Good to Go and Olio have been created. You can register to buy discounted food, for example at the end of the day before a café or restaurant closes, instead of it being thrown away and wasted.

The MoneySavingExpert website is full of advice, deals, discounts, vouchers and savings tips, including information on businesses like Morrisons who are offering free or cheap food.

community support and warm spaces:

Nishkam SWAT is a Sikh organisation who provide hot meals to those in need. Contact your local Gurdwara, Church, Temple or Mosque to find out more.

Find out about local and national LGBTQ+ Jewish groups here.

Find out about local and national LGBTQ+ Muslim groups here.

Find out about local and national LGBTQ+ Christian groups here.

FoodCycle organise 60 free community meals a week across the UK.

Trans Mutual Aid offer support to the LGBTQ+ community.

FoodCycle organise 60 free community meals a week across the UK.

support services

your local council:

If you are facing financial hardship you should contact your local council to find out what support they can offer – many councils will have a Welfare Provision Scheme where they can provide vouchers or financial assistance to local residents in need of support. They can also signpost you to other local services.

drop-in centres:

If you are homeless or insecurely housed, or have other support needs, you can access your local drop-in service where you may be able to access hot food, showers and laundry facilities as well as advice and support. Use the Homeless Link directory to find your local day centre.

grants and funding:

You may be eligible to apply for grants and support from different organisations – use the Turn2us grants checker to check what support is available to you.students:

If you are a student and you are struggling financially you should speak to your uni’s support service as soon as possible – they may have a Hardship Fund or be able to refer you to other services for support.

cooking on a budget:

If you’re looking for tips and ideas on how to cook nutritious meals on a budget then there are a whole host of resources online. Here are some of our recommendations:

LGBTQ+ cook and campaigner Jack Monroe’s website has a resource on recipes which use supermarket basic products.

Love food hate food waste have tips on how to reduce food waste and make healthy low-cost meals

Aldi is currently the cheapest supermarket and has created easy recipes to create with their products. 


Read our recommendations to policymakers in response to the cost of living crisis and view all of our Cost of Living support guides.