Co-op to donate £1.5 million of food to FareShare

21 March 2020

Today, convenience retailer Co-op has announced that from next week, it will be donating £1.5 million worth of food to FareShare, in a show of co-operation to help boost stocks, support local communities and those citizens who are struggling amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

FareShare – the UK’s largest hunger fighting charity - supports over 11,000 charities and community groups, including food banks and Co-op has pledged £1.5 million of essential food products which will be split amongst FareShare’s 23 regional centres, and then supplied to a network of local community groups across the country.

Food banks have seen a significant drop in donations as the Coronavirus takes hold, but it is in these times of national crisis that they remain a lifeline for those who rely on the donations to feed their families. Demand is only set to grow as the number of people who unexpectedly find themselves out of work increases.

Jo Whitfield, CEO, Co-op Food, said: “The Co-op has a critical role to play in supporting our members, customers and colleagues, as well as the local communities that our stores sit at the heart of. Food banks have never been more important, so it makes sense that we provide support to help FareShare keep people fed and watered during this unprecedented time.

She continued: “Co-op already supports around 1,500 local community groups with our national food redistribution programme, Food Share, and we know that they are finding it tough at the moment, so I’m really pleased and proud we can provide FareShare directly with the essential products they need to help our communities. It’s a great example of us all cooperating and pulling together to help those most in need and I would ask everybody if they can, to contribute to a food bank near to them. Every tin, jar or carton makes a difference.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO FareShare, said “At this time of huge uncertainty, we all need to pull together to help those most vulnerable and most affected by the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The very generous support of £1.5 million worth of food from the Co-op will enable the FareShare network to maintain a continued vital food supply line into our charities over a prolonged period of ten weeks, providing great reassurance that there will be a baseload of food provided to the 11,000 charities and community groups that FareShare and our partners support every week across the UK.”

Co-op have also announced today they will be prioritising more vulnerable customers and those who care for them, during the hours of 8am to 9am Monday – Saturday /10am to 11am on Sundays. As a local convenience retailer, Co-op is uniquely positioned to serve these customers.

Jo Whitfield, CEO, Co-op Food said: "I would like to thank our customers for their ongoing support as we all pull together during these unprecedented times. We won’t close our Co-op to other customers during this hour, but I would ask for their understanding as we prioritise the needs of our most vulnerable customers and the amazing people who look after and care for them."

Earlier this week the Co-op also announced measures to combat holiday hunger in pupils caused by unplanned school closures. 6,500 students across 25 Co-op Academy Schools who currently have free school meals, will be given a £20 voucher for every week that schools remain shut.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Co-op is committed to supporting communities with national food redistribution and has worked in partnership with FareShare since 2013, to redistribute food from its 12 UK depots. Since the partnership began seven years ago, the Co-op has donated almost 6m meals, which includes 1.3m meals last year which went to those in need.

Co-op’s also started its own national ‘Food Share’ programme in May 2018, where around 1500 local groups benefit from unsold, quality, fresh food nearing its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ from Co-op’s network of UK stores. So far, food for over 4.6m meals has been donated to local causes and charities.

Earlier this week the Co-op also announced measures to combat holiday hunger in pupils caused by unplanned school closures. 6,500 students across 25 Co-op Academy Schools who currently have free school meals, will be given a £20 voucher for every week that schools remain shut.

__For further information please contact the press office:
Kirsty Rushby
07834090014
kirsty.rushby@coop.co.uk

Victoria Simons
07738621076
victoria.simons@coop.co.uk__