If you or someone you know is struggling to buy food, the following organisations might be able to help:
The first point of contact should be Cambridge Citizens Advice. They can help and advise you on a range of financial issues, including debt management, issues with benefits and budgeting. They can also refer you to a food bank.
You can access advice online or drop in Monday to Thursday, 9.15am-12.45am, or Friday 9.15am to 12 noon. You can also call 0344 848 979 Monday to Friday to speak to someone on AdviceLine.
To access the food bank, you need a referral from an agency.
This may be through Cambridge Citizen’s Advice, a child’s centre, a health visitor or many others. For help getting a referral from the most appropriate agency, click here.
The Cambridge City Foodbank operates in several locations. For full details including opening times click here.
If you live in Cambridgeshire, and are eligible, CLAS can provide information, advice and one off practical assistance in times of exceptional pressure. Following an assessment, you may receive supermarket vouchers and/or help to buy white goods (such as a cooker or fridge).
To make an application, you’ll need to have a CLAS Champion, who will process the application on your behalf. CLAS Champions are usually from your local CAB or if you rent from a housing association please ask if they can help.
Cooking and Shopping
When you’re on a budget, it can be difficult to eat well. This is particularly true if you don’t have cooking skills or equipment.
If you live in a HMO (House in multiple occupation) then your landlord has a legal obligation to ensure there are enough cooking facilities, and that they are in good repair. Find out more here.
We run a number of free cookery workshops in various parts of the city, funded by Cambridge City Council. Where these are open to the public, we advertise in the local area, but sometimes these are closed groups, with participants recruited by the Council workers and by Children’s Centres. These have been with families, young people and older people in assisted living.
In terms of shopping, it is nearly always cheaper to buy seasonally. It is also worth visiting supermarkets near the end of the day when reductions happen (particularly on fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables). In addition, store magazines often contain coupons in the front and/or back pages, which save money on various items. For more tips on supermarket savings, click here.
For cheap meal inspiration, Jack Monroe has a wide range of recipes. Visit www.cookingonabootstrap.com.
If you are struggling to buy fuel, then you can apply for a fuel voucher at the Cambridge City Food Bank. Just speak to a member of staff when you go to collect your food package.
There are also heating grants up to £300 for vulnerable individuals/families from Stay Well. Applicants must be living in Cambridgeshire and need to be referred by an organisation (voluntary sector or local authority) that has assessed the circumstances and can verify that the individual/family are in extreme crisis and in need of immediate assistance. Grants will be paid direct to the energy supplier, or to the referring agent to buy a prepayment token or other items.
For those that are homeless, other costs of keeping warm (such as sleeping bags) will be considered.
For more information or to make an application, please visit Stay Well.
Healthy Start Vouchers
These are worth £3.10 a week per child to spend on milk, fresh fruit and vegetables. They are for people who are receiving means-tested benefits and are either at least 10 weeks pregnant or have children under the age of four; or who are pregnant and under 18. You can apply online or speak to your midwife or health visitor.
Free School Meals
Children whose parents receive certain benefits (but not working tax credit) are entitled to receive free school meals. Find out if your child is entitled. You can find out more and apply on line here.
The council will help you apply. Email or call the Free School Meals Team on 01223 703200. You will need to tell them your National Insurance Number or your National Asylum Seeker Number (NASS), your date of birth, and your surname (as it appears on your benefit letter).
The Cambridge Holiday Lunch Programme provides free lunches during school holidays for families with children who ordinarily receive free school lunches. They usually run on several weekdays at various venues across Cambridgeshire during the school holidays (except Christmas when it is by invitation only). The programme is supported by Cambridge City Council as well as a number of community organisations and churches.
To find out more, the coordinator can be contacted on email at email@example.com
Or you can call the Buchan Street Neighbourhood Centre on 01223 508149.