Over 175 MPs from across the country have teamed up with Central England Co-op to back a campaign calling for people to donate food and other items to keep children fed, educated and entertained this summer.
Today the retailer, which operates over 260 food stores across 16 counties, joins forces with parliamentarians from across the political divide to reinforce its message of putting an end to holiday hunger as part of its Summer Support for Kids campaign.
The campaign, which launched at the start of August, is now at its halfway point and it can today be revealed that over 75,000 items of food, arts, crafts and school supplies have been donated by kind-hearted customers during the past six weeks.
The amazing response means that hundreds of youngsters will now not go hungry and also be able to be educated and entertained as children across the country continue what is normally their school summer holidays.
Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, said: “No child should have to go hungry in Britain in 2020. The effects of hunger on young bodies and minds are serious and long-lasting, and can exacerbate social inequalities.
“We know that the school holidays dramatically widen inequalities between the poorest and their peers and that they will not be able to catch up if they are too hungry to learn.
“That’s why I am proud to support Central England Co-op’s campaign to end holiday hunger this summer, and you can too by donating vital food items on your next visit to the Co-op.”
Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, said: “This year the demands on families’ income have increased with children at home and at the same time many families have lower wages, or even lost their jobs, due to the pandemic. Anything you can donate to Central England Co-op will help to make sure that children do not go hungry.”
Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said: “I encourage all my constituents to donate at their local Central England Co-op in Yardley, to help families and individuals in our area have what they need over the summer. Hunger is a problem I see every day in my office and the people in Yardley have always been generous with calls for help.”
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, said: “No child should go hungry this summer, yet, in Barnsley there are children and families on the breadline who risk having to go without food over the summer holidays.
“I am a very long-standing campaigner on tackling child poverty and ensuring every child has the best start in life, which is why I’m proud to endorse this vitally important campaign by Central England Co-op.
“Please support where you can by donating any spare food you might have the next time you visit your local Co-op. Together, we can make sure that no child goes hungry this summer.”
The campaign comes on the back of research, by FareShare Midlands, that shows that across the 16 counties Central England Co-op trades 1,163,134 children are currently living in poverty and face being impacted by holiday hunger.
Natalie Smith, Store Manager, said: “It is amazing to see this support from MPs up and down the country and to see the continued amazing support from customers who have dug deep and donated over 75,000 items in just six weeks. Thank you so much.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support for our campaign but we must not stop there. Our message to anyone who can is to please continue to drop an item or two in to our instore food bank collection points to make sure we carry on helping people all summer long.
“During uncertain times like these, co-operation and us all coming together to support our food bank partners is vital to make sure children and their families get access to food and items that they may otherwise miss out on.”
The appeal runs until September and all customers and members have to do is drop items off in special collection points located in every store.
Items that can be donated include shopping basket staples from tea, sugar and cereals to other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products. Also, food banks have requested drinks for children, as well as vital sun cream and after sun.
For the first time this year other items needed include small arts and crafts items such as crayons and paints, as well as school supplies such as pencil cases and stationery.