Rotary4FoodBanks is District 1220s response to the Covid-19 crisis

Pressure on the UK’s food banks is increasing daily. The upturn in unemployment due to the Covid-19 crisis is resulting in many more families needing to turn to local food banks. This comes at a time when our food banks were already stretched to the limit; – in 2019 they supplied 1,808,949 emergency food supplies, a year on year increase of 20 per cent.

Rotary clubs frequently support food banks. In District 1220 we are increasing our commitment with a scheme that is designed to provide food items to food banks as donations now and in the future. It is also planned that the scheme will enable foodbanks to purchase the essential products that all food banks require regularly, at competitive prices. The S6 food bank in Sheffield has already benefited in this way.

Rotary4foodbanks is a project to assist immediately and provide a new sustainable supply channel for the future. The scheme funnels food donations to food banks cost effectively and enables food banks to purchase foods at the most competitive price with the cash donations they receive.

Why can Rotary make this difference?

Rotary has extensive supporter and volunteer connections and is a proven campaign organiser. We have been instrumental in eliminating the wild polio virus in all but two countries in the world and we want to help prevent a corona food crisis in the UK.

Rotarians have the skills to develop this complex project and an army of volunteers to implement it. Rotary is a brand that individuals, companies, and the public sector trust and Rotary will get the partner support that makes the difference.

Making a humanitarian difference is what Rotary does all over the world.

What will we do?

  • The Rotary4foodbanks scheme provides Rotarians, Clubs, businesses and other organisations with a secure and efficient means to support food banks.
  • Rotary Foundation Grants will be used to leverage the donations we receive whenever this is possible.
  • The Rotary4foodbanks buying group ensures that all the donations we receive are spent on items that food banks need on a regular basis acquired very cost effectively. 
  • Our buying group will also enable food banks to utilise their own funds to purchase items at the price Rotary4foodbanks purchases at.
  • Our transportation network will enable goods to be stored, picked and routed to food banks at no cost to the food bank or the donors.
  • We will seek and facilitate the dispersal of large donations of food to multiple foodbanks.
  • Encourage new volunteers to support food banks.

How can you and your club help?

  • Nominate a food bank. You do not have to donate anything other than your service to nominate a food bank. Simply confirm that it is a bona fide, reputable, not-for-profit, Charitable organisation and get it to confirm this to Rotary4foodbanks.
  • Make a donation: You can restrict this to be used for a specific food bank(s) or make it unrestricted and we will ensure it is put to good use. Funds are being coordinated through the Rotary Club of Derby South Trust Fund, Account: 41215892 sort: 40-19-15
  • Apply for a Rotary Foundation or any other organisation’s grant.
  • Volunteer for the project team – we urgently need your help.
  • Volunteer to do deliveries or find a volunteer delivery driver.
  • Volunteer to man the satellite storage facilities.

Offer your skills –

  • Publicity
  • Distribution
  • General Administration
  • Fundraisers
  • Logistics
  • Social Media
  • Communications
  • Accountancy

The Rotary4foodbanks team is open to all Rotarians and any individual recommended by a Rotarian. Email: and offer your help NOW!

To Nominate a Foodbank, download the following forms

Form for Stage 1 is to be completed by the nominating Rotary Club. Form for Stage 2 is to be completed by the Food Bank

We have put together some answers to frequently asked questions;

How does this scheme enhance my and my clubs rotary experience?

Your cash donations will be contributing to a coordinated response that helps with immediate needs and will provide a long-term benefit to food banks.

Rotary is built on the friendships that develop by participating in a project. This project gives you the opportunity to make a difference and build friendship in a diverse project team. Whether as part of the project team or as a volunteer in a satellite warehouse or delivering food to food banks you will meet interesting people and make new friends along the way.

It’s a great project to get a non-Rotarian friend or relative involved in.

What benefit does Rotary bring to this scheme?

Only you and your club can access Rotary Foundation funds that can help this project.

Rotary has the vision and volunteers to make this happen.

Is this project restricted to District 1220?

No, Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland (Rotary GBI) actively support this project and the project team are working hard to get other Districts involved. Updates are provided to District leaders throughout Rotary GBI on a regular basis.

Positive publicity for Rotary and opportunities for working with people outside of the organisation. A presence in the media.

It is taking a long time. Why are we not making a more immediate response?

The project started at the beginning of April 2020 and we have come a long way in a short period of time, but we fully appreciate that people want to take immediate actions. In this context we encourage everyone to get appropriate items of food donations to food banks and to volunteer if your circumstances allow. 

Fortunately, there is a significant degree of short-term support for food banks coming from the retail sector. We have already distributed some bulk food donations but it takes time to get the funding in place from a standing start. We also want to secure a longer-term security for food banks.

The reality is that the retail food sector is obviously the best equipped place to provide immediate emergency support. It is important that the project has sustainability.

Are we sure that foodbanks need the supply chain that the scheme is establishing?

Food banks have, until recently, benefited from food and cash donations from members of the public, charities and supermarkets. Currently, a few supermarket chains have made generous responses to the problem of food shortage. However, there is no independent supply chain between manufacturers/ producers and the food banks themselves. Cash donations to food banks are usually used to make food purchases at retail prices or to cover operating costs. In line with the core principles of The Rotary Foundation we do not give cash to other charities – we supply the item that the intended beneficiary needs – in this case that is food. Equally our projects minimise any staffing costs due to the active volunteer involvement of Rotarians.

Getting economies of scale direct to food banks will transform their ability to support people.

Where is the money coming from?

The total value of grant applications currently in process is around £75,000.

Rotary clubs can make a district grant application using their available funds, through Neil Swanwick. (Grants Chair).

A Crowd Funding site (Global Giving) will be up and running in June. These unrestricted donations would attract Gift Aid directly into the fund.

Rotarians can make payments to their club treasurers and when the club has claimed Gift Aid, the donation can be transferred to the Derby South account. This is an unrestricted donation.

If multiple Rotarians in a club make donations to their club, the club claims Gift Aid and transfers it all as a single club donation to Derby South, it can be designated to a nominated food bank. The Gift Aid can come as a separate donation when it is received by the club, but all monies will only count as donations when they are in the account.

An application has been made for a Rotary Foundation Disaster Grant.

We will approach government and companies for support as soon as we have operationally established the scheme.

Why are doing this?

The scheme was prompted by announcements from The Rotary Foundation that made grant funds for Covid 19 projects more easily available.

In response to the views of Rotarians expressed in our Strategic Review survey, the District adopted a policy to identify a major project that all Rotarians could participate in that would also have a wide local benefit and visibility.

DG David has set up links with the Chamber of Commerce – are they getting involved?

Yes. There is some practical support that we hope will be forthcoming from that relationship. The opportunity for businesses to exhibit their corporate social responsibility input by offering the time of their employees on a regular basis, alongside Rotarians, is one obvious opportunity.

How does it work?

Funds raised are used to purchase goods from wholesalers/ manufacturers/ producers at prices well below the retail norm.

Goods are transported to a central hub run by Taylor’s Transport, Huthwaite, Sutton-in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.  From there, the produce is dispersed to satellite storage at Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham, and Doncaster. These satellite locations have local Rotarian management who organise the ongoing distribution to foodbanks.

Foodbanks distribute food parcels to their clients and we distribute food pallets to the foodbanks. What we supply is dictated by availability but we only distribute items that we know foodbanks use in their food parcels on a regular basis. Our aim is to provide pallets of around 50 cases of five different food items which would have cost the foodbank around £700 to purchase at retail. We buy product that is well within shelf-life and deliver in quantities that a foodbank can utilise within the shelf life.

In addition to the products that we purchase we seek bulk food donations and include these items in our food pallets.

Foodbanks are not able to order specific items and the allocation of our stock to specific foodbanks is governed by the terms of the supporting financial donor and at the sole discretion of Rotary4foodbanks.

How do we know what to buy?

Research conducted, with the support of the Trussell Trust, has enabled the project team to establish our shopping lists.

What can we do?

Apply for a grant.

Nominate a food bank.

Volunteer to do deliveries.

Volunteer to man the satellite storage facilities.

Offer your skills –

  • Publicity
  • Distribution
  • Logistics
  • Communications

Who do we contact?

Grants – Neil Swanwick (

How to get involved – Val Leivers

Nominating a Food bank – Tom Hunt

I want to join the project team – John Cavey (

I can help with physical distribution – Lesley Reynolds (

Need more answers – your president and AG.

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