Distributing winter food vouchers and hardship funds to the nation

Winter Food Vouchers from Blackhawk Network

We can distribute vouchers for essentials like food, clothing, and school meals to at-risk households. 

In 2020, the nation came together to voice support for making free school meal vouchers a priority, keeping vulnerable children and families fed throughout periods of lockdown and school holidays.

At Blackhawk Network we wanted to help – and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve worked with charities, councils and other organisations to disburse funds quickly and efficiently, making aid distribution easier for everyone. We’ve also been stretching budgets further, thanks to our scalable setup. 

While we’re all hoping the worst of COVID-19 is now behind us, household finances are being put under yet more pressure. Rising energy costs and cuts to Universal Credit payments will leave many people needing extra support to make sure their bills are paid and that nobody goes hungry. During the cold, dark days of winter, food vouchers and other hardship aids are more important than ever.

The positive news is that from October, the new £500 million Household Support Fund will be available to help families across the UK. Distributed by councils, the fund will support those who need it most through small grants to meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities. 

Earlier this year the government also expanded the £220 million Holiday Activities and Food programme that enabled councils and charities to offer nutritious meals and enriching activities to disadvantaged children across the Easter and Summer holidays. The expansion in the funding means that these areas will continue to be covered throughout the upcoming Christmas break.

Winter food vouchers for low-income and vulnerable households 

In 2020, our fund disbursement team delivered $250 million worth of emergency aids around the world, including £90 million in the UK. 

We’ve supported charities and non-profit organisations who have worked around the clock to help vulnerable households get the hardship funds and aids they need to survive. As the appointed primary B2B seller for two of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, we’ve helped distribute millions of Tesco and Morrisons school meals vouchers. By issuing vouchers and e-codes directly, while also fulfilling demand on behalf of other companies, we’re proud to play a part in getting vital support to the families who need it.

We distribute these food vouchers as prepaid cards, gift cards and digital codes, which can be spent in-store and online with major supermarkets and popular retailers. By receiving food and school meals vouchers in these formats, recipients always get the full benefit of the amount they’re sent, rather than sacrificing cash payments to overdraft fees and other expenses. 

Food and shopping vouchers we’ve sent to households across the UK include: 

Select Essentials codes for supermarket choice – with 9 national Supermarkets available to choose from.

Morrisons food vouchers

Tesco food vouchers 

Sainsburys food vouchers

Aldi food vouchers

Asda food vouchers

Iceland food vouchers 

M&S food vouchers

Waitrose food vouchers

Farmfoods food vouchers

Multi-store shopping vouchers for other everyday essentials 

If you want to give your beneficiaries some choice about where to spend their funds, while ensuring the money is used as intended, here are two of our multi-retailer options:

Originally created as a response to the financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our Select Essentials platform can be used at seven of the UK’s top supermarkets, making it ideal for covering the cost of food, clothing, toiletries, household and cleaning supplies.

Want to provide support in other areas? Our One4all Favourites range is made up of themed gift cards that can be redeemed at a selection of retailers within a certain category. Maybe you want to use some of your funding to help with kitchen basics like kettles, microwaves, saucepans or utensils, for example? Our Home & Garden Favourites card is an easy way to give your beneficiaries instantly redeemable credit at go-to retailers like Argos and Robert Dyas.

Distributing funds for instant impact

A recent report by Action for Children helped explain the scale of poverty that hit the UK in 2020. More families than ever before had to turn to charities to support them with essentials to live. In fact, a staggering 71% of people who contacted Action for Children had not experienced any financial issues previously. 

This surge in households and businesses needing support across the UK left front-line charities and non-profit organisations overstretched. The Licensed Trade Charity, who we’ve been supporting with fund disbursement since May 2020, explained the situation clearly when its Grant Manager said, “We received over 3,000 applications in a 48-hour period. That volume is what we usually deal with in a year.” 

Rapid support with winter fund disbursement

Our team are experts in creating fund disbursement programmes at scale and at speed. For four decades, Blackhawk Network has used technology to deliver countless workplace and consumer rewards. We have the knowledge, experience and, more importantly, the tools to carry out these processes in a quick, efficient and cost-effective way. 

We are always looking for ways we can support the global community. Making sure hardship funds and grants reach recipients quickly is one way we’ve been making a difference ever since the first push for free school meals in 2020.

With Marcus Rashford leading the charge to keep this crucial support for families up and down the country, we know there is still so much we can do this winter. Fund disbursement solutions are often inefficient, relying on time-consuming manual processes. The reality is that overworked charity workers and organisations rarely have the resources they need to send funds effectively. By contrast, our technology has been built around the intelligence and flexibility needed to distribute aids quickly, even at scale.  

Here are some of the ways our fund disbursement work is benefiting charities and other non-profit organisations:  

  • Improving audit trails, as no cash is given 
  • Aids are received within 24 hours of payment being received
  • Funds are spent on the items they are intended  
  • Vouchers can be customised and include a personalised message
  • Admin & financial savings vs traditional money transfers 

Helping charities disburse aids this winter and beyond

As UK households grapple with the latest changes to government policy and price increases on everyday items, many are still feeling the effects of the pandemic too. The turbulence of employment figures, the loss of community businesses and the myriad of effects on our mental health will mark our lives for a long time to come. In the run up to Christmas, and in the months that follow, we’ll keep providing support to those who need it.

Whether your funding is coming from the new Household Support Fund or local provision, we can work with you to create a disbursement programme that’s carefully designed for you and your beneficiaries – all in just a few working days.

We know the hardest-hit households will still need support from champions who fight their corner this winter. Food vouchers, free school meals and multi-retailer gift cards are just some of the ways we can help you distribute your grants or hardship funds. We’re here to get the right support to the people that need it, and quickly.  


Is your charity, council or non-profit organisation looking for support to disburse the Household Support Fund, Holiday Activities and Food Programme or any other hardship grant?

Fill in the contact form on your right to connect with one of our team. We’d be happy to discuss how we can support you with your winter fund disbursement.




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