Central England Co-op is launching an urgent summer appeal to help boost the stocks of food banks in its communities and tackle the issue of holiday hunger during the school break.
The retailer has special collection points in over 200 of its stores where its customers and members can donate all year round, however it hopes to boost food bank supplies as they face soaring demand during the summer holiday period and due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
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 donated are 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’ve had an amazing response to previous appeals to support our food bank partners at crucial times of the year and we know from speaking to them that sadly the demand is only growing for their services. The summer holidays is always a particularly busy time anyway with children off school and not able to receive free school meals if they’re eligible.
“This is why everyone involved at Central England Co-op is asking members and customers, if they can, 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 clearly 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.
Gavin Hodges from Edible Links Atherstone Food Bank highlighted the desperate nature of the situation currently.
He said: “We are facing a rising demand for our services against a backdrop of depleted donations and rising costs, particularly fuel. Our Food Bank has since an increase of 58% usage compared to last year and we have a steady 15% increase month on month.
“Our Social Supermarket welcomes 32 families each week and has a waiting list for appointments. We also have a project supporting Ukrainian refugees that means even more, unpredicted demand on our stocks. We are particularly short of long-life juice and squash, pasta and pasta sauce if anyone is able to donate via store.”
Emma Coates from Tamworth Food Bank said: “Our stock levels are extremely low at present and have been for several months. We have seen an increased demand for our services, especially from first-time service users.
“Our aim is to have a future where there will not be a need for Foodbank in the UK, which is why we offer 'More than Food', we are able to sit with people and signpost them to additional services to hopefully help them through their crisis. From the autumn, we will also be offering more in-house support, watch this space!
“With the cost-of-living biting, many of our key food items are getting too expensive for people to donate. We appreciate the support from our partner supermarkets, our financial donors, and each and every individual that donates to us. Our Foodbank would not be able to help as many people as we do without such support.”
Central England Co-op’s Summer Food Bank Appeal will run right across the summer holiday period and people can find their nearest Central England Co-op store at https://stores.centralengland.coop