TESCO customers and colleagues in the South West are getting ready to help people in need this summer as the retailer launches what it hopes will be the country’s biggest ever food collection this weekend (July 3-5).
Since April 2012, Tesco have hosted three Neighbourhood Food Collections that have collected an incredible 10 million meals for people in need around the UK.
The record breaking last collection, hosted in December 2013, saw an incredible 4.3 million meals donated.
Tesco and its food collection partners, foodbank charity the Trussell Trust and food redistribution charity FareShare, hope to beat that total by collecting five million meals during this summer’s collection.
The Neighbourhood Food Collection will take place in Tesco stores across the South West to help provide much needed food for thousands of people in the area.
The ambitious target has been set after research revealed that people in the South West are usually less generous in the summer months than at other times of the year, particularly Christmas.
Just seven per cent of people surveyed said they are at their most charitable during the summer, compared to Christmas and the winter season when 44 per cent say they give generously.
The problems faced by those in food poverty are just as acute in the summer, as many low-income families who normally receive free school meals have to find ways to make their budgets stretch to afford extra meals for their children.
The research also found that 43 per cent of all people in the South West are worried about paying household bills this summer, with 21 per cent of parents saying they have had to borrow to make ends meet.
The Neighbourhood Food Collection will be hosted in all Tesco stores across the UK, collecting food that will then be given to people in need through Trussell Trust foodbanks or redistributed to community groups and other frontline charities that deal with food poverty by FareShare.
In addition to the thousands of volunteers from Trussell Trust foodbanks and the FareShare network, hundreds of volunteers from the British Red Cross will once again be supporting the collection in some Tesco stores.
Chris Bush, Tesco UK Managing Director said: “We do everything we can to keep prices low for customers who are finding times tough, and we and our customers feel a big responsibility to help those who are really struggling to feed their families.
“So far our Neighbourhood Food Collections have seen more than 10 million meals donated to help people in need, and I’d like to thank all our customers, colleagues and volunteers for their help in reaching that incredible total.
“It will be a real challenge to beat our existing record of 4.3 million meals donated in one collection, but I’ve been knocked out by the generosity our customers and colleagues have in the past, so I’m confident we can do it.”
As in previous collections, Tesco will be topping up total donations by a further 30%.
Chris Mould, Trussell Trust Chairman, said: “As school summer holidays approach, many of the UK's poorest parents are deeply concerned about being able to feed their children over the long break.
"Whilst the economy is showing signs of recovery, times are still very tough for families on the breadline and school holidays are particularly difficult as family finances can be stretched to breaking point in order to provide basic food for their children.
"During school holidays, foodbank volunteers meet parents who have been skipping meals to feed their children, and mums who cry tears of relief when they receive a food parcel that means the whole family can eat that night.
“In July and August 2013 Trussell Trust foodbanks alone gave emergency food to 133,539 people, including 47,639 children.
"This year that number is likely to increase. Many foodbanks will be running additional services to help families who will struggle during the holidays. We are urging shoppers at the Neighbourhood Food Collection to give generously to help ensure foodbanks have enough food to provide vital services to families in poverty.”
Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare said: “Over the last 12 months, we have seen a 41 per cent increase in the number of charities that we are able to support. This increase means that we are now providing food to over 1,290 charities, such as homeless charities, night shelters, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and domestic violence refuges to name a few.
"These frontline organisations feed 62,200 people every day and many are telling us that more people are turning to them for food.
“The Neighbourhood Food Collection is a great initiative that has provided enough food for 10 million meals since the first collection in December 2012 and we are hoping that the next collection will be even more successful.
"As the research shows, people are more generous at Christmas when it’s easier to remember those in need.
"However, we are urging people to give generously once more and not forget that the summer is also a difficult time for many as they struggle to provide for their families during the long break”.