" The rise of food-banks has given Britain's harvest festival tradition a new momentum - but has left little room for fresh produce as part of the celebrations.
In the past, September was a time when churches and school halls were filled with an abundance of seasonal fresh fruit, vegetables and bread, much of it destined for those in need.
That began to change as tinned and dried foods became more prominent, and a strict 'no-perishables' policy is now common among harvest festival organisers, whose goods are increasingly bound for foodbanks and charities.
'In my youth, you'd have harvest festival on Sunday, and on Monday you'd pack everything that came in and take it out round the community,' says Reverend Gillian Houghton, a minister at Guisley Methodist Church in Leeds. But that isn't the case these days - churches have less direct contact with people in need, so now we ask for non-perishables, which we send to a food-bank and a local homelessness project.'
Use of food banks have risen to record levels, with The Trussell Trust - which operates a network of more than 400, with collection points in Waitrose stores - providing over one million three day emergency supplies last year. There is usually a large spike in donations around harvest time, particularly from Churches, Schools and other organisations.
'During previous years we've been incredibly humbled by the level of support people across the UK have given food-banks at Harvest time,' says the trusts network director, Adrian Curtis. 'This is the busiest time of year for us, when the colder weather means people can face having to choose between turning on the heating or putting food on the table.'
In 2010, a YouGov survey found more than 80% of people in the UK no longer celebrate harvest festival and, of those who do, more than half mark the occasion by donating dried or tinned goods.
Despite a campaign to bring fresh produce back to the heart of the celebrations, those at the sharp end says it's just not what is needed anymore.
'We can't take any fresh food because we can't store it,' says Vivian Salter, a director at Braintree Area Foodbank in Essex. 'Our rules on storage are exactly the same as they are for a supermarket.'
'Sometimes churches will have an auction of fresh produce, and give us the proceeds of that, but mostly they encourage people to bring tins and packets.'
Despite talk of dwindling interest, churches, charities and farmers insist harvest traditions are alive and well in Britain.
'Festival services remain very popular, especially among families and children,' says a Church of England spokesman. 'As the Church seeks to tackle issues about the environment, climate change and sustainability, its themes of of thanksgiving for creation, care for the countryside have struck a fresh chord with a new generation.'
But the modern harvest festival hasn't entirely severed its links with the agricultural past.
'I've been involved with Ely Cathedral's festival for many years, where we have fresh fruit and veg - and even livestock - at the service,' says Brian Finnerty of the National Farmer's Union of East Anglia.
Other Churches in the region have started running farmers' markets during festival weekends, he says, while a new recipe book Great British Food From Great British Farms *, will be given out during this year's celebrations. 'It's really a good opportunity to reinforce the links between food and farming,' adds Finnerty. "
The above words taken from Waitrose Weekend Magazine