David Drozdziak, corporate partnerships executive for YMCA England, hoped that other retailers would now replicate the scheme to provide food to food banks on a national scale.
“At a time when the numbers of people experiencing food poverty is continuing to rise, there is an increasing need for communities to come together and find new ways to ensure that supplies of food reach those who need it most,” he told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
18% have suffered from food poverty
18% of people in the UK have suffered from some form of food poverty, from individuals skipping meals to parents going without food to feed their children or relying on family or friends to provide food, according to research by Tesco, Trussell Trust and FareShare.
This figure rises amongst 18–24 year olds, with 44% of this age group saying they had experienced some form of food poverty in the last six months.
In June, FoodManufacture.co.uk reported that the number of people using food banks had soared. The Trussell Trust figures showed it had helped 350,000 people so far this year, compared to 60,000 people in the whole of 2011.
But enough food was collected at Asda’s Orchard Street store at Burton, Staffordshire last week to fill 30 food bags which will now be handed out from the YMCA’s banks at its homeless shelter, Reconnect, in James Street, Burton and in Grove Street, Swadlincote.
Each food bag contains enough items to feed a person for three days, with each person entitled to four bags.
They are made up of everyday items which could provide enough food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
‘Effective and sustainable solution’
“With shoppers able to purchase donations alongside their weekly shop, together Burton YMCA and the Asda team were able to come up with a simple, yet effective and sustainable, solution [to food poverty],” said Drozdziak.
In recent months, more local YMCAs have been setting up or joining forces with other organisations to provide a community food bank and these services are proving to be much in demand, he added.
Gillian Cox, appeals co-ordinator for the YMCA in Burton, told local press that the response from shoppers had been overwhelming.