UK food bank lets users make in-store purchases with donated funds

CONTACTLESS: Users can now shop in store using dedicated funds via the FaceDonate app

Food bank users in the London borough of Hackney in the UK can now buy essential food items at local grocery stores by using a smartphone app to generate a QR code with their face and then use this code to authorise payments from dedicated funds.

Hackney Foodbank — which provides emergency food to people in crisis or trapped in poverty — began trialling the FaceDonate app last year and is now making the service available to users at all five of its distribution centres.

The service enables the charity to distribute funds according to the size of each user’s household and allows consumers to select and purchase items at participating stores rather than collecting donations or food parcels from the food bank itself.

Once they have selected the items they wish to purchase, users can then scan their face with the app to generate a QR code, receive funds into their account and then authorise a payment made with the code.

“Customers can still pick food from the charity’s donations — green crates brimming with tinned vegetables, pasta and biscuits — but many prefer to shop by phone, bypassing the stigma that food banks can carry to select groceries of their own choosing,” according to a Reuters report.

“The food bank says it gives users the freedom to buy what they need, eases pressure on overwhelmed food banks and lets the charity monitor how money is spent.

“Users are given money based on their household size and are barred from spending it on big-ticket items, tobacco or alcohol. Nor can they transfer the funds to anyone else.”

FaceDonate has transferred more than £65,000 (US$81,484) to food bank users in Hackney since launching the pilot service last year, the report adds. 

UK food bank lets users make in-store purchases with donated funds was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.