Nutritional adequacy and content of Food Bank parcels in Oxfordshire, UK: a comparative analysis of independent and organisational provision
Lovegrove, Julie A
Background: Food bank use has increased significantly in the UK. With the rise in demand, it is imperative that users are receiving food parcels that meet their requirements. The present study aimed to explore whether typical food parcels, supplied by The Trussell Trust and independent food banks, were meeting the daily nutrient and energy requirements of an adult user. Methods: The Trussell Trust (n = 2) and independent food banks (n = 9) were surveyed in Oxfordshire, UK. Data were collected on food bank use, resources, donations and parcel content. The energy and nutrient contents of a representative parcel were compared with the average dietary reference values (DRVs) for an adult. Additional comparisons were made between The Trussell Trust and independent provision. Results: Parcels provided energy, carbohydrate, sugar, protein and fibre contents that significantly exceeded the DRVs. In total, 62.2% of energy was provided as carbohydrate and 569% of the DRV was provided by sugars. The vitamin D and retinol content of the parcels was significantly lower than the DRVs, meeting 25% and 27% of users' needs respectively; provision of all other micronutrients exceeded the DRVs. The Trussell Trust's parcels provided significantly less vitamin D and copper than independent parcels. Conclusions: Food bank parcels distributed in Oxfordshire, UK, exceeded energy requirements and provided disproportionately high sugar and carbohydrate and inadequate vitamin A and vitamin D compared to the UK guidelines. Improved links with distributors and access to cold food storage facilities would help to address these issues, via increased fresh food provision.