Co-op customers donate enough food to create over 22,000 meals following Christmas food bank appeal

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Central England Co-op has said a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to customers and members after they donated over 45,000 items in support of its 2020 Christmas Food Bank Appeal – helping to create over 22,000 meals for people in need in these uncertain times.

The retailer hosted a special appeal throughout December in an effort to bring a little festive cheer and provide emergency food and support to individuals and families in crisis as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns continue to be felt.

Colleagues at over 240 food stores across 16 counties used already strong connections with local food bank providers to encourage people to drop off one or more items – resulting in an amazing response.

Over 10,000 items a week were donated and, in total, over 45,000 were collected in just a matter of weeks.

This allowed for the creation of special food parcels that were handed out to provide over 22,000 meals both during the festive period and into the new year.

The incredible support from the public for the appeal is particularly humbling, combined with their wonderful backing for the retailer’s 2020 Christmas Toybox Appeal which also saw over 12,000 presents and stocking fillers donated to give children who might otherwise have missed out a Christmas to remember.

Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-operative chief executive, said: “I have once again been overwhelmed by the fantastic response to our Christmas campaigns from customers, members and colleagues which have helped to make a real difference to people in need in our communities at this special time of year.

“As a co-operative, it is great to be able to support the great work of local food banks across our trading area during the festive season and throughout the year.

“We all want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who donated, not just to the Christmas Food Bank Appeal but our year-round food bank collections.

“The generosity and support on show during the challenging times we have lived through during 2020 has helped make a major difference to people from all walks of life at a time when they have needed it most.

“We now want to ask people to continue to support our food banks during 2021 so we can keep providing vital donations to good causes that can really make a positive impact on those in need.”

The parcels included items such as tea, sugar and cereals and other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products to ensure people can maintain their dignity during times of crisis. They also featured festive treats ranging from boxes of chocolate and biscuits to mince pies following a plea for people to spread a little ‘festive cheer’ with their donations.

The Christmas Food Bank Appeal was launched on the back of year-round relationships currently in place with local food bank providers and hundreds of Central England Co-op stores, where permanent food bank collection points are in place in hundreds of its stores.

The store food banks have resulted in thousands of people every month from Birmingham to Norfolk being given enough food to cook meals.