• Finding out the exact number of food banks in the UK is difficult.
  •  However, even by low estimates, there are far more food banks than there are McDonald’s.
  •  The equivalent claim for Northern Ireland is also true.

On 23 October, campaign group Best for Britain posted on Twitter:

“There are more foodbanks in this country than McDonald’s.”

This is accurate.

Although exact figures for the number of food banks are tricky to pin down, there are around 1,350 McDonald’s outlets in the UK compared with over 2,500 food banks.

The same claim would also hold water in Northern Ireland, where there are over 40 food banks compared with 33 McDonald’s restaurants.

Food banks

Information collected by the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) shows there are “at least 2,565 Trussell Trust and independent food banks operating across the UK”.

IFAN told FactCheckNI that this does not include “hundreds” of other food banks run by churches or the Salvation Army, or those running out of schools or universities.

Trussell Trust NI provided us with a list of 41 food banks in Northern Ireland that it knows about, not all of which are part of the Trussell network. All the food banks on that list are well established, having been operating for some time. Trussell Trust said this figure is a low estimate for several reasons, including that many community organisations provide emergency food in-house but don’t call themselves a food bank.

Golden Arches

We asked McDonald’s how many restaurants they have in the UK, and in NI specifically. They said they “currently have over 1,400 restaurants open across the UK & Ireland.”

McDonald’s Corporate Governance Framework 2020 (published in 2021) notes that they have 1,350 restaurants in the UK. That figure may have risen in the past year but will be nowhere near the 2,500 number which is a low-ball estimate for total food banks.

Using their restaurant locator, FactCheckNI was able to establish that there are currently 33 McDonald’s in NI.