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With the festive season right around the corner, the chances are you’ve recently heard the term ‘reverse advent calendar’ – but what does that actually mean?
A reverse advent calendar is based on the traditional advent calendar model, where you receive 24 treats (traditionally chocolate) every day in the countdown to Christmas – only this time, instead of receiving the treats, you donate 24 essential items to your local food bank.
Another key difference in the reverse advent calendar vs traditional advent calendar set-up is the fact the former runs throughout November as opposed to December, so that the food banks have time to get their food parcels out to those that need them in time for the festive season.
The Trussell Trust, a charity committed to working with a nationwide network of food banks to support emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, are anticipating a huge 61% increase in demand for food parcels this winter compared to last due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. So, if you’re in a position to contribute – regardless of if it’s 24 items, or three – this post will hopefully provide you with a little more insight into how this all works.
How can you create a reverse advent calendar?
If you’re interested in creating a reverse advent calendar, I can promise you one thing: it’s super easy!
Everytime you go shopping, pick up a few key staples that you can take home and store with your other food bank products, until you have the final amount you’re looking to donate.
I always like to store my donations in a box in a kitchen cupboard so it’s easy to add my products as I go.
Alternatively, many supermarkets have food bank drop-off points, so if you’d rather donate as you go rather than wait until you have all 24 items (especially if you’re low on storage space), it’s a great option!
An additional part of a reverse advent calendar is to then take to social media using the hashtag #FoodBankAdvent to spread the campaign far and wide, and to hopefully inspire and encourage as many people as possible to take part.
What are good items to include in a reverse advent calendar?
Typically, you’re looking to pick up items that are non-perishable, have long expiry dates on them, and that are cupboard staples. They also don’t need to be food – think toothbrushes, shower gel, sanitary products and so on. This year it’s probably also worth picking up face masks and anti-bacterial hand gel, as these will most definitely be needed.
A great place to start is to Google your local food bank to find out what they are particularly short on – most will list what they really need, which provides you with a great shopping list for when you next visit the shops.
The below image might also provide you with a little guidance on the kinds of products it’s worth picking up – feel free to save it so that when you’re next out and about, it’s easily accessible to you.
How Do I Donate My Completed Reverse Advent Calendar?
This is another one for Google I’m afraid – whilst many food banks typically accept in-person donations, with this year being different to previous years (and social distancing rules in place), they might have different procedures in effect. However, most commonly, it’s advised that you take your donations to your local participating supermarkets to donate them there.
If in doubt, Google will absolutely be able to tell you the preferred drop-off locations for your nearest food bank.
Other things to note about a reverse advent calendar:
- Shopmium, GreenJinn and Checkout Smart are all great apps that will allow you to pick up freebies to include in your reverse advent calendar
- Avoid perishables and fresh foods, and pick up non-consumable essentials too
- Don’t feel limited to only contributing during the festive season – your local food bank will most likely need support throughout the year
- If you aren’t in the position to donate physical products but still want to take part, your local food bank will most probably be able to take monetary donations over the internet. Alternatively, The Trussell Trust is a great charity to consider donating to, amongst many, many others.
Share your progress
As mentioned above, a huge part of a reverse advent calendar is to share your progress as frequently as possible on social media using the hashtag #FoodBankAdvent, to try and spread the word (and maybe even inspire others to take part) as much as possible.
As much as the reverse advent calendar campaign is about donating to your local food bank, it’s also about raising awareness and encouraging as many people as possible to join in and contribute what they can.
Whilst I typically pick up items once or twice a week, I space out how I share them on social media so that, if somebody misses what I share on Monday, they might see the other posts on Tuesday, or Wednesday.
Just remember to always tag your pick-ups with #FoodBankAdvent, where you’ll also be able to find other participants sharing their progress.
Hopefully this post has helped break down exactly what a reverse advent calendar is, how you can take part, the kinds of products that are best to pick up, and how you can help raise awareness of the campaign, but if you have any questions at all, please feel free to send me a message on Instagram – I’m always happy to help.
This post, and the whole concept of a reverse advent calendar, isn’t intended to shame anybody who might not be in the position to take part this year. More so than ever, you need to look out for yourself and your family first, and if circumstances don’t allow it, please don’t ever feel bad for not being able to take part.