Central England Co-operative can reveal that customers and members have donated enough food to feed 42,500 children at risk of going hungry this summer.
The retailer’s Summer Food Bank Appeal collected a staggering 165,000 items during a three-month period which was then used by food bank partners to try and combat a rise in demand from families for food who see the safety net of free school meals removed during the summer holidays.
The food was dropped off at special food bank collection points at over 200 Food Stores across 16 counties during July, August and September and then used to create special packed lunches for projects that tackle holiday hunger during the summertime and also meal parcels for families in need.
Central England Co-op chief executive Debbie Robinson said: “I and everyone involved with our Summer Food Bank Appeal have been overwhelmed with the stunning generosity of our customers and members.
“By just dropping an item or two into our special collection points this summer they have ensured that thousands upon thousands of children at risk of going hungry have been fed during the school holidays – ensuring they remain fit and healthy and could enjoy their holidays to the full.
“To have collected over 165,000 items and created meals for 42,500 children is an amazing achievement and, most importantly, will have had a major impact for these youngsters this year and hopefully for many more to come.
“We are proud to work with amazing food bank partners all year round and continue to urge our customers and members, if they can, to drop off an item or two into the special collection points in our stores to make sure vital support continues for people in need all year round.”
Items donated included shopping basket staples from tea, sugar and cereals to other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products.
Central England Co-op launched its Summer Food Bank Appeal in July after figures from End Child Poverty, from across the retailer’s trading estate of 16 counties, revealed that over 350,000 children were at risk of falling into holiday hunger during 2019.
Holiday hunger revolves around a rise in demand from families who see the safety net of free school meals removed during the summer holidays.
This often leaves people trying to stretch their budgets in order to eat and in some cases going without proper food during the holidays.
Max Shanahan, from Northfield Community Partnership, said: “The donations as part of the Summer Food Bank Appeal have made a life-changing difference for youngsters during the school holidays.
“Rather than not being able to eat or worrying where their next meal would be coming from, the support from Central England Co-op shoppers has ensured that so many children have been able to instead focus on enjoying the summer holidays and being fit and ready when they go back to school.
“We want to say a big thank you to all who have donated, but also ask people to, if they can, continue to support the year-round food bank collections that take place in Co-op stores as, unfortunately, there is never a time that we do not need help in supporting those in need.”
Central England Co-operative has permanent food bank collection points in hundreds of its stores all year, which have resulted in thousands of people every month from Birmingham to Norfolk being given enough food to cook meals.
The Society works with over 50 different food banks to provide emergency food and support to individuals and families in crisis throughout the year.