Central England Co-op is launching an Easter appeal to help boost the stocks of food banks in its communities as the cost-of-living crisis sends demand for their services soaring.
The retailer has special collection points in over 200 of its food stores where its customers and members can donate everyday items to support local food banks all year round, however the appeal has been launched to help at a time of year when supplies start to drop.
While some of the food bank partners it works with will happily take Easter eggs donated, the majority are most in need of essential items to help struggling families in the communities they support.
Most requested items currently include UHT Milk, long life juice, pasta sauce, sponge puddings, tinned fruit and vegetables, tinned meat and fish, rice pudding, washing up liquid and many food banks are also keen to receive toiletries such as deodorant and toothpaste.
The items will then be collected up, turned into parcels with enough food to create meals for three days and distributed to help people in need across Central England Co-op’s trading area.
Store Manager Brad Tuckfield said: “We had an amazing response to our Christmas Food Bank Appeal and we know, after speaking to our food bank partners, that sadly the demand is only growing.
“While the majority of our food stores have food bank collection points in place all year round, we feel that it is vital to shine a light on the times of year when services are strained and are in need of boost.
“Easter, just like summer and Christmas, is one of these times and this is why everyone involved at Central England Co-op is asking members and customers to dig deep and help support some great and vital local good causes who are providing a lifeline to people in need in your community.”
Central England Co-op’s food bank partners across the country have reported that they are already seeing the impact of the rising cost of living and also that although demand for their services is rising, supplies are diminishing, and they are in urgent need of support.
Keith Hadfield from Sherwood Forest Food Bank highlighted the desperate nature of the situation currently.
He said: “It's unfortunate, due to the current financial situation, that the demand upon our service is increasing constantly, yet our stock levels are diminishing.
“Last weekend we had to buy over £1,000 of food in order to top our supplies. It's clear that isn't a way to operate long term, but the fact is that the incoming donations are nowhere near enough to cover our demands.”
Emma Coates from Tamworth Food Bank said: “Due to the ever-increasing price of food, our donations have decreased dramatically. So much so, we are struggling to keep up with the demand. Since January 2022 we have helped feed well over 1,000 local people, many of them are new to the Foodbank.
“We very much appreciate the continued support Central England Co-operative offer us, even more so at this very difficult time. Unfortunately, we don’t foresee the rest of this year any easier; incomes are being squeezed so much that it is a case of 'eat or heat' for many of our service users.”
Tim Jackson from Soar Valley Community Food Project said: “We’re providing 60 food parcels to families in need across eight villages between Leicester and Loughborough. Your support makes a massive difference to each family.
“As well as food we also engage with the families over a coffee to see how else we can help them and help them through the challenges they are facing. In the last couple of months, we have seen a massive increase in those needing debt advice as the cost-of-living crisis impacts family budgets.”
Central England Co-op’s Easter Food Bank Appeal runs right across the Easter period and people can find their nearest Central England Co-op store at https://stores.centralengland.coop