A full fridge for Christmas guests that aren't coming? Here's what to do with your extra food

The Trussell Trust expects to give out six emergency food parcels every minute over winter. Credit: PA

While many will be wondering what to do with the full fridge that was ready for Christmas guests that will never arrive, there will be those in the country who will be asking how they will be getting any food in there at all.

The UK is heading for one of its bleakest Christmases in living memory thanks to the pandemic but the response to the frustration of cancelled plans should not be to throw away all the food, there are many who will need it more.

People have been expressing their frustration at the imposition of Tier 4 and the tightening of the Christmas rules after they were announced on Saturday just as many began preparing to welcome guests for the festive period.

While some of the food can be frozen and saved for another day much of it won't, but before you begrudgingly wait for it to go out of date, ask yourself what can be done with it.

The economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has hit many families hard with more than ever relying on benefits and charity.

The Independent Food Aid Network has seen the number of food parcels they hand out rise by 88% in 2020.

The Trussell Trust said they had delivered 2,600 food parcels for children during the first six months of the pandemic.

James Quayle of North Paddington Foodbank said: “More people are struggling with higher energy bills, whilst we continue to see new customers needing food who have been struggling for some time but have resisted coming for help.”

It is in hard times like these we all need to remember at its heart, Christmas is a holiday about giving.What can be done to help?

If you do decide to help out over Christmas by donating some excess food, the best place for it will be at a local food bank.

Food banks are often run by volunteers with small workforces and are facing exceedingly busy times made even more complicated by the need to follow coronavirus guidelines.

If you are planning on donating food to a food bank then it is best to check ahead of time whether on their website, Facebook page, or by phone when would be the best to visit.

Most food banks accept all kinds of food, including perishable items.

Food banks have seen a surge in demand this year.

To find your local food bank you can often get all you need from Google, or find the Independent Food Aid Network food bank's here, or the Trussell Trust's here.

Sabine Goodwin, a coordinator at the Independent Food Aid Network, said people should "absolutely" contact their local food bank to see how they could help.She said food a vital donation but urged people to also consider volunteering as many food banks were facing an extremely busy period.

Food banks also often welcome cash donations.Ms Goodwin also said people should also try and help end food poverty in the country.

She said: "There's only one way to deal with people's needs and thats to make sure they have enough income in their pockets."

She said all charities that help provide food to people who need it had seen a huge surge in demand and encouraged people to write to their MP and urge them to take action to fight food poverty in the UK.

You can also download the Olio app which connects people and businesses to organisations that need food in order to ensure any surplus is shared and not wasted.

There are signs people have already begun to help

Despite the gloomy and difficult year many people have had, there are signs people have pulled together to help those who need over the winter already.

Food banks across the country have been able to send out huge amounts of food already due to a growth in donations.

The Andover food bank said they had already been able to send out 500 food parcels for Christmas with more to go.

The Hornsey food bank in London said they were "overwhelmed by so much generosity" they had received on December 18.

Despite this more food will always be needed, the Trussell Trust said they expected to give out six emergency food parcels every minute over winter.

There has been a spotlight on food poverty in the UK during the pandemic after Marcus Rashford campaigned to extend free school meals over the summer holidays.

His campaign led to a significant amount of pressure on the government but also inspired many people and businesses to donate what they could to help struggling families.