WHEN someone says the phrase “food bank” to you, what do you think?

Some people go all political and question how it’s possible that a country like Scotland could possibly need such a thing in 2020.

Some are in denial about the existence of, or the need for, food banks, and feel that people are playing the system.

But for a large amount of people food banks are an essential part of their life.

Who are we to judge?

Read more: OPINION Maureen Cummings: Food bank’s team is here to help you

Whatever your view, food banks provide essential lifelines to a lot of families and West Dunbartonshire has quite a few.

This week I’ve had a few messages emailed to me and I’ve sorted out a few in the hope that maybe other people will benefit from the answers.

Q. Do I have to bring proof of identification or income if I visit a food bank? (William, Drumry)

A. Food banks who operate on a referral basis may require you to bring identification with you and it will be helpful if you call them in advance to ask what they require. Non-referral food banks will not require any paperwork from you and there will be no forms to fill out.

Q. Can I choose what kind of food I get from a food bank? (Lewis, Dumbarton)

A. Given that most food banks provide food that is donated to them, it’s unlikely you would have a “shopping” experience. However, don’t be afraid to ask if you have specific dietary requirements or would like a certain item – the goal for food banks is to help you so there is nothing wrong with asking.

Q. My neighbour goes to a food bank and has a big house and 2 cars – how is that acceptable? (Caroline, Duntocher)

A. Food banks are not only for deprived areas or for people on low income, they are a service designed to help relieve food poverty. However, some projects may need you to go through an affordability check.

It’s very easy to form opinions on people based on external facts. But the old adage that you should “never judge a book by its cover” really is a good way to think at times.

Regardless of people’s class or background, food insecurity is a big part of life for a lot of families in West Dunbartonshire.

Please continue to reach out if you are in need of emergency food aid.

Please don’t judge those who use food banks.

Please continue to support your local food bank, whatever your views are.

And please be kind.