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Central England Co-op donates 4.5k meals every day

A project launched to redistribute unsold food from Central England Co-op to local good causes is now donating the equivalent of nearly 4,500 meals to people in need every single day – over 1,600,000 million a year!

Following the roll out of the groundbreaking scheme over the past 18 months, a total of 230 food stores across 14 counties now send all best before food items and non-food goods that cannot be sold to the Society’s Food Distribution Centre, in Leicester, where they are then delivered to FareShare East Midlands who send them to support dozens of local charities across the same area.

The project now donates the equivalent of 4,460 meals a day or 22,132 a week – resulting in over 1.6 million meals a year, smashing the original target of just over one million. This allows Central England Co-op, via Fareshare, to help 3,200 people per week – a total of over 166,000 a year.

The project has been calculated to save the charities over £52,000 a month as they now do not have to spend that money on food and can invest it in other areas to benefit the people they support.

Hannah Gallimore, Central England Co-operative Corporate Responsibility Manager, said, “We are so pleased that the rollout of this project is now complete and 235 of our food stores are now part of this ground-breaking project.

“The impact it has had can truly be seen in the figures that really do speak for themselves. We are now donating enough food to create over 22,000 meals a week, which is supporting over 3,000 people in need.

“We had been looking for a solution to this issue for many years and are now proud to have rolled this out across the majority of our business so we can tackle food waste in a manner that also has a major impact for our communities and our partners.

“Our partnership with FareShare East Midlands has been and will continue to be an amazing success story. The process behind it is all based around ensuring that the food is sorted, collected and sent out to partners as quickly as possible to ensure that it gets to the people who need it when they need it – ranging from community kitchens to breakfast clubs and hostels.

“Despite the success of the project, we will not be resting on our laurels and will continue to come up with new and innovative ways to tackle food waste and help our communities at the same time.”

Central England Co-op is now in talks with other independent co-operative societies about adopting the project and has also showcased it to several major retailers including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.

It stands out because it is believed to be the first of its kind to use an existing distribution network to collect items and then deliver them to charity.

Simone Connolly, Director at FareShare East Midlands, said, “Hearing what a difference this food makes to people lives who are most in need is the real success of this project and showcases why it has been and will continue to be so vital.

“The combined effort between us and Central England Co-op has ensured that thousands more people across our region have access to perfectly edible food that would otherwise be wasted.

“While we acknowledge that we’re not able to lift people out of poverty, we can ensure that good food isn’t wasted when there is a real need for it thanks to this ground-breaking partnership with Central England Co-op.”