British Food Banks Are Shuttering At The Worst Possible Time — Here's Why

The extreme heat that ripped through the U.K. and other parts of Europe this summer has left farmers with droughts and limited irrigation on their hands, resulting in scant harvests of major regional crops like potatoes, carrots, and onions. In addition to an energy crisis that's driving up utility bills and gas prices, British residents are bracing themselves for a winter branded by mass food shortages and even higher prices on essential goods and the cost of living (per The Guardian). Food banks, which provide people in need with emergency pantry items, are a vital resource at any time, but especially during Britain's current food crisis.

On top of everything, the country is now grappling with the loss of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away at her Balmoral Castle estate on September 8 (per The New York Times). On Monday, September 19, Her Majesty's funeral at Centenary Square will capture the country's undivided attention as an official bank holiday (per the U.K. Cabinet Office). That's all well and good, but it's causing major concerns among those who rely on food banks, many of which will close in honor of the procession. 

The country will grind to a halt for the queen's funeral

Six out of seven major British already strained food banks plan to close on September 19 in accordance with the government shutdown honoring Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, Open Democracy reports. The outlet says that "at least one" food bank will remain open with the support of volunteers, but other food banks say they can't operate without delivery drivers, who will be taking the day off. "The death of the Queen will understandably cause some disruption to the state and government," a spokesperson for political organization Momentum told the outlet, "but it's vital that our democratic institutions — whether Parliament or political parties — operate at full capacity as the cost of living crisis continues to wreak havoc across the country."

The Washington Post reports that the event will also affect healthcare services, including the postponement of all "non-urgent" surgeries at hospitals. The outlet writes that the decision to declare September 19 a bank holiday was made at the last minute, and that the government encouraged employers to "respond sensitively to requests from workers who wish to take time off."