Central England Co-op is urging customers and members to once again show their support for those most at need in their communities as part of its 2021 Christmas Food Bank Appeal.
The retailer worked closely with over 65 food bank providers last year to collect over 45,000 items and created 22,000 meals as part of the special campaign and this year hopes that customers and members are able to dig deep and donate again in the run-up to Christmas as its communities continue to feel the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.
Alongside much-needed items such as long-life milk, tinned fruit and toiletries, some food banks are also encouraging shoppers to ‘spread a little festive cheer’ in these uncertain times by dropping off a Christmas treat such as chocolate into collection points at over 260 stores across 16 counties.
The campaign is launching as the Society’s Christmas Toy Appeal draws to a close as it looks to support people struggling this festive period to have a happy Christmas with their families after the challenges that 2021 has provided.
Central England Co-operative Corporate Responsibility Manager Hannah Gallimore said: “I know our customers and members will give their backing to making sure our Christmas Food Bank Appeal can make a real difference to families struggling in these uncertain times.
“Over the past few years, the appeal has supported our food bank partners to create and provide thousands of meals to help people in need over the Christmas period and sadly this year that need has only grown as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis hits people across our communities.
“The campaign relies on the wonderful generosity of our customers and members, and I would like to encourage them to again show their co-operative spirit, so our food bank partners can provide emergency food and support to individuals and families in crisis.
“We are also issuing a plea on behalf of food banks to help spread a little Christmas cheer by donating a nice treat into our special collection points.
“All we are asking is for people, if they can, to drop off one or more items into our food bank collection points this Christmas and help make a real difference in their community.”
The Christmas Food Bank Appeal will run from December 1 to December 31. The items will then be collected and made into food parcels.
These contain around 11 items and will provide at least three days’ worth of meals for those in need.
Items that can be donated include shopping basket staples from tea, sugar and cereals to other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products to ensure people can maintain their dignity during times of crisis.
Among the food banks Central England Co-op support are Action Homeless in Leicester, House of Bread in Stafford, Ely Food bank in Cambridgeshire, Kettering Food Bank, Norwich Food bank, the Hope Centre in Derby, Hope Nottingham, South Derbyshire CVS, Bethany Food bank in Birmingham and the Welcome Centre in Yorkshire.
Emma Greenhough from the Welcome Centre said: "This time of year is our busiest not only for donations but also when more people need our help. Families who are often just about managing month to month find the increased heating bills, the need for winter clothes or shoes alongside the extra money needed for Christmas pushes their already stretched budget over the edge.
“If you are able to donate just one item that we need, it will help us sprinkle a lit bit if happiness this Christmas and make sure no one goes hungry in our community. "
Cathy Wright from Ely Foodbank said: “She said: “Ely Foodbank are seeing an increase in those needing help for the first time. Job changes, benefit cuts and the rise in the cost of living has meant that more people will be looking for help this winter. The choice between food or warmth is a real issue for many and the drop in temperatures means it becomes an even harder one to make.
“With amazing support from Central England Co-op and many other organisations and individuals, Ely Foodbank is confident to meet the rise in demand over the winter and hopefully help people realise that foodbanks are here to support them whatever the time of year.”
The Society works with over 65 different food banks to provide emergency food and support to individuals and families in crisis throughout the year.
Find out more about how Central England Co-op is supporting its communities this Christmas at https://www.centralengland.coop/discover