Help with food costs

Households struggling with soaring energy bills and food prices may be eligible for support through the Household Support Fund. The vouchers are for residents who need the most help. This includes:

  • families with school-aged children eligible for pupil premium free school meals
  • care leavers
  • pensioners receiving Housing Benefit who do not receive the direct government support provided to recipients of other DWP benefits

There is no need to contact the council about getting this help. The council holds a list of eligible residents and will contact them.

We have also introduced an application-based scheme. This is for Reading residents on low incomes and those who are struggling to meet the rising cost of living. Find out more about what support is available and how to apply on our Household Support Fund webpage.

Free food parcels

If you are struggling with paying for food, you need a referral to Reading’s food bank Readifood. A professional organisation or charity must make the referral. Speak to any professional you are working with for a referral. You can also contact one of the local advice agencies if you are not in touch with an organisation already.

If you are struggling for food currently, please contact the Debt Advice Team. They will be able to provide you with details of where you can go to get a food handout as soon as possible.

Healthy Start

Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

If you get Universal credit, you can apply online if:

  • you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family’s monthly ‘take-home pay for this period’ is £408 or less from employment

If you get Child Tax Credit, you can apply online if:

  • you have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less

Free school meals

If you are receiving an income-based benefit (not including Working Tax Credit) you could receive free school meals. Contact your child’s school for more information and to apply.

Community Food Share

Wycliffe Church is working with a local supermarket to make un-used food available to local residents, rather than throwing it away.

Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 8pm

Address: Wycliffe Baptist Church, 233 Kings Road, Reading

More information on Food Share.

Fridge for the community

Community Fridge is open Wednesday midday to 1pm, Thursday 6 to 7pm and Friday 6 to 7pm. They offer a selection of free fresh and non-perishable food. This is a drop-in service with no referral needed to attend.

Telephone: 07421 998 208
Address: Queens Arms, Great Knollys St, Reading RG1 7HL

New Beginnings is an all day cafe is for all who want to sit and relax in a friendly and happy atmosphere. It is a completely free service that everyone is welcome to attend. Hot and cold drinks are provided all day, along with a selection of biscuits and cakes.

Every Tuesday we provide a sit-in meal for anyone who wants to relax and enjoy a freshly cooked meal. Once a month we also hold a little event during our Tuesday service. Currently this includes Quizzes or Bingo.

Telephone: 07421 998208
Address: Queens Arms, Great Knollys St, Reading RG1 7HL

Community support

Whitley Wood Pantry run by Faith Christian Group. Open to the community and local families, for a small weekly subscription of £5.00 members of this pantry can access food including fresh fruit and vegetables and store cupboard favourites that will often value £15-20 or more.

Whitley Wood Community Centre
Swallowfield Drive

Opening times Tuesday 1:00pm – 3:00pm
If you have any questions about Whitley Wood Pantry contact or call 07739414085.

Whitley Community Development Association staff and volunteers have been working with local partners such as Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Aldi, Co-op, Bidfood and many others to provide surplus food free to anyone who needs it.

The Food Surplus Project is open on a self-help basis – just pop along and take what you need. If you can make a small donation that would be very much appreciated as every penny is used to provide more food.

Food Surplus Project is open:Monday to Friday 10am to 1.30pm at The South Reading Community Hub, 252 – 262 Northumberland Ave. Reading, RG2 7QA

Norcot Pantry for a weekly subscription of £4.00 you will have access to food including fresh fruit and vegetables and store cupboard favourites that will often value £15-20.

The pantry is at Norcot Mission Church on Brockley Close, each Friday between 10am to 12pm and 4pm to 6pm for residents of the Dee Road estate and around Norcot only.

The Weller Centre is located on the Amersham Road Estate, aims to help anyone in need throughout Caversham with food, clothes, furniture, internet access, printing, and signposting, no referral needed. 

We are able to supply families in the RG4 area with basic food packages, both fresh and dry foodstuffs. 

Telephone: 0118 9475828

Sadaka provides twice weekly a nutritional and warm meal alongside a bottle of water, a bag of crisps, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit, and a dessert.

Alongside the hot meal service, Sadaka also provides our service users with a bag of groceries that includes long-life food and toiletries.

Telephone: 0118 324 6565
Address: Fairview Community Centre 90b Great Knolly’s Street, Reading, RG1 7HL

Dee Caf Community Cafe is an eco-community cafe in the heart of the Dee Park Estate. 

A community fridge is available to the public on Wednesday 3pm to 3:30pm.

Contact cafe directly for more information or visit their website. 

Address: Montague House, 12 Spey Road, Tilehurst, Reading RG30 4DG
Telephone: 0118 996 0478

Torch Hub is an organisation promoting various food and drink events (free, priced and donation), hosted by local churches including seniors lunch (donation), community night (free)

Dates, times and locations of events are on their website.

Telephone: 0118 380 0260

Reading Red Kitchen is a social food bank focused on supporting asylum seekers in Reading. Visit their website for more information.

Pet food banks

Check if there are any other pet food banks in your area. The RSPCA have a guide to support pet owners with the cost of living and the cost of having a pet, including help with vet bills and other advice and support.

Growing projects

Veg4Reading have many gardens across Reading. They run courses on how to grow food.

Reducing your food costs

You may be able to reduce your costs by:

  • Shopping weekly and making a meal plan using up ingredients you already have, then making a shopping list of any missing items. Going shopping daily will make you spend more.
  • Do not shop when hungry. This makes you likely to spend more, especially on less healthy foods, such as high-fat and sugary snacks.
  • Be strict about buying only what you’ll actually eat. The average family with children throws away almost £60 of good food every month.
  • Try cheaper brands, you could save money by buying cheaper brands than you usually do as well as cutting back on luxuries.
  • Look up cheap recipes. There are plenty of websites that give you recipes for cheap tasty meals including using leftover ingredients.
  • You could also reduce the cost of food by making packed lunches for work/school rather than buying food when you are out.
Last updated on 28/05/2024