Co-op calls on the Government to do more to stop holiday hunger as it launches food bank drive
Central England Co-op is today calling on the Government to do more to help vulnerable youngsters and their families as it launches its Summer Support for Kids campaign to tackle holiday hunger.
The retailer, which has over 260 stores across 16 counties, is kicking off its annual drive to collect vital food items to support those impacted by holiday hunger and, for the first time, is urging people to donate items such as arts, crafts and school supplies to help kids with their school work and keep them occupied during the summer months.
It will also be donating £100,000 to its food redistribution partner FareShare Midlands who will be providing food and resources to children over the summer months, plus they will also be campaigning to see a change in Government policy to provide better support for those in need.
On average, FareShare Midlands says it costs around £1.80 to create a healthy and nutritious meal for a child. This would mean the six-figure donation could provide over 50,000 meals during the coming months.
Research by FareShare Midlands, based on local authority statistics, has revealed that across the 16 counties Central England Co-op trades 1,163,134 children are currently living in poverty and face being impacted by holiday hunger - only 25% of which are actually accessing any kind of support such as free school meal vouchers reinforcing the call that more needs to be done to help.
Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-operative Chief Executive, said: “We have now been working with our food bank partners to try and combat holiday hunger for many years, yet we continue to see demand for food bank support spike as what they now offer has sadly become a permanent solution rather than an emergency response.
“We all want to get to a point where we do not have to rely on the generosity of our members and customers to ensure children do not go hungry every single summer and this is why today we are calling on the Government to urgently address this problem and put an end to holiday hunger. Free school meals and vouchers are great but not enough.
“We now need more change from the Government before it is too late to support the near 900,000 young people in our area who fall outside the current support system.
“However, in the meantime, communities at the heart of our mission are continuing to suffer and this is why we are urgently launching our Summer Support for Kids appeal.
“We are asking people to donate food and, for the first time, items such as arts, crafts and stationery to keep kids entertained this summer and help them get ready to return to school - any donation will make an ever-lasting impact for those in need.
“I would also like to thank all of our customers and members as when you shop with us, we then generate the funds necessary to support initiatives like FareShare to operate, specifically supporting children and families who live in the community around your local co-op.”
The appeal will run from now until September and all customers and members have to do is drop items off in special collection points located in every store.
Items that can be donated include shopping basket staples from tea, sugar and cereals to other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products. Also, food banks have requested drinks for children, as well as vital sun cream and after sun.
For the first time this year other items needed include small arts and crafts items such as crayons and paints, as well as school supplies such as pencil cases and stationery.
The retailer has been running its summer campaign to tackle holiday hunger for the past two years, resulting in over 300,000 donations and nearly 80,000 packages of food and essentials being handed out.
Central England Co-operative has permanent food bank collection points in hundreds of its stores all year round.
The Society works with over 60 different food banks to provide emergency food and support to individuals and families in crisis throughout the year.
Keep up-to-date with the campaign by visiting www.centralengland.coop/updates
Notes to editors
Below is a breakdown of some of the food banks that will receive donations as a result of the appeal and the number of youngsters in that area currently living in poverty.
- In Burton and South Derbyshire, Harvey Girls, in Burton, and South Derbyshire CVS are among the food banks that will benefit from donations.
- A total of 15,316 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- In Bedfordshire, The Need Project is among the food banks that will benefit from donations.
- A total of 60,385 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- In Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City Food bank, Peterborough Food bank and Yaxley Food bank are among the food banks that will benefit from donations.
- A total of 72,085 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- In the East Midlands, Arnold Food Bank, in Nottingham, Hope Centre, in Derby, Kettering Food Bank and Action Homeless, in Leicester are among the food banks that will benefit from donations.
- A total of 306,907 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- Norwich Food Bank will be one of the recipients of donations in Norfolk and Suffolk.
- A total of 107,973 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- In Stoke and Stafford, the following food banks will benefit from this campaign - House of Bread and Trussell Trust Rugeley Food Bank.
- A total of 119,705 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- Ediblelinks will be the main beneficiary of donations from stores in the Warwickshire area.
- A total of 74,918 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- In the West Midlands, B30 Food Bank, Lichfield Food Bank and Northfield Community Partnership will be among the organisations to benefit from donations.
- A total of 201,686 children currently live in poverty in this area.
- In Yorkshire, The Welcome Centre, based in Huddersfield, is among the organisations that will benefit from the donations.
- A total of 297,889 children currently live in poverty in this area.
About Central England Co-operative
Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral, travel and property investment.
Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish.
Our 7,900 colleagues who serve Members and customers work hard to ensure that co-operative values, principles and spirit flow through everything we do to help support and improve our local communities.
Owned by hundreds of thousands of Members, we have over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
We are proud of our reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.
We invest a percentage of our trading profit into local communities through our Community Dividend Fund scheme, have donated over £1.3 million to our corporate charity partner Dementia UK and also operate a pioneering food redistribution partnership with FareShare Midlands so unsold food goes to those in need.
Visit www.centralengland.coop for more information or follow us on Facebook or Twitter using @mycoopfood
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