Several food banks in the UK will remain closed on the day of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September in a move that has triggered anger among some.
The announcement of the closure of food banks comes as thousands of hospital appointments, funerals, museums, supermarkets and theatre performances have already been cancelled for Monday and amid increasing inflation and high costs.
The Stoke-on-Trent food bank was among the first on Tuesday to announce the decision to close its three distribution centres. Branches in East Elmbridge, East Grinstead, Grantham, Ringwood and South Sefton were among the others to follow suit.
Keynsham in Bristol also said there will be no food bank sessions at the Key Centre on 19 September (Monday).
The decision comes as the government announced the day would be an official bank holiday to allow people across Britain to pay their respects to the Queen when she will receive a full state funeral to honour her lifetime of service.
Several social media users have expressed anger and heartbreak over the decision, asking why it was important to shut food banks amid a cost-of-living crisis.
“Closing a food bank for the Queen’s multi-billion pound funeral is heartbreakingly ironic,” Twitter user Joshua Jones said.
Another user, podcaster Jess Davies, said the Queen would have deemed the decision ridiculous.
“Food bank closing. Cancer appointments being cancelled. Parliament being off for four weeks in the crux of a cost of living crisis. I’m not really sure this is a respectful way to treat the British people, and I’m gonna hedge a bet the Queen would think it ridiculous too,” she said.
The backlash by people forced Trussell Trust, a nonprofit organisation that supports a nationwide network of food banks, to defend the independent decisions of distribution centres and warehouses to shut shop for the day.
A spokesperson for the trust said most are of the charities are independent and were given the option to close or stay open on the day of national mourning.
“Food banks are all independent, but we have emailed saying it is a bank holiday and they can decide what to do,” the spokesperson said.
“It really depends on the local need on the ground, the volunteers will know if they are particularly quiet on a Monday, or if it is a busier day.”
Outrage by some people, however, has led some food banks to backtrack on their decision to close.
The Trussell Trust’s Wimbledon branch deleted its tweet announcing closure and said “due to the overwhelming support we have received we now have volunteers to run our Monday session as usual”.
“Food banks in our network run sessions on different days and at different times,” said Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust.
“Food banks are best placed to make the right decision for their communities and will ensure everyone who needs support can access it as they do with every bank holiday.
“As each food bank is an independent charity, we’d encourage people who need support to contact their local food bank to check their opening hours.”