I went to Tesco yesterday and I saw that they had set up a food collection. It was run nationally over the weekend (5th-6th July) in all Tesco stores. Basically people put an extra item of shopping into their basket then donate it to the collection on their way out. It is then distributed between around 900 charities and used to stock food banks which help people who just can't make ends meet. For the first time, Tesco will be setting up permanent food collection points in some of their stores and I think that's a great idea. How easy would it be to get into the habit of adding an extra item to your shopping trolley every week! I hope that this scheme is a hit and they place a collection point in each of their stores nationwide.
The need for these services is becoming more and more common in these financial times and its not just the food which helps these families, many people say that the emotional support they receive from the charity workers is just as important. Single parents who are struggling to get enough food on the table to feed their children, elderly people who are unable to afford enough food or cook hot meals. The people that this project helps are among the most vulnerable in our society and I am so happy to see that big corporations like Tesco are using their popularity and wealth to help people like this. They are not just taking donations from their customers, at the end of the weekend Tesco will donate a further 30% worth of food to the cause.
The two charities which Tesco is in partnership with are The Trussell Trust and Fare Share. The Trussell Trust gives families and individuals in crisis three days worth of food, they are referred to the service by doctors and social workers and once they are at the trust they are listened to and supported in finding other services which may be able to help them long term. Fare Share gives food to charities and organisations such as children's breakfast clubs and lunch clubs for elderly people. These events not only enable these people to have a proper meal each day but it also helps them to get out of the house, socialise and make friends.
This event really struck a chord with me because my mum didn't have much money when my brother and I were young and, although we never needed to use a food bank, I know how hard my mum had to work and budget just to give us three meals a day. Also, it is very easy for families to slip into the category of needing this help. All it takes is for one parent to become ill or have an accident and their savings can be depleted very quickly. No-one ever knows when they may need services like these and that's why I feel very strongly about supporting them.
The items which they asked people to donate were non-perishable goods such as UHT cartons of juice or milk, cereal, pasta, tins and jars.I bought two cartons of orange juice and a box of coco pops (I know I probably should have bought sugar-free cereal, bad nanny!) and they cost me around £2. I had spent about £50 on pizzas and alcohol for a party we were throwing so an extra £2 didn't really make any difference to me but it could make a massive difference to a child who normally goes to school with an empty stomach and cannot learn because they are so hungry. How many people would spend much more than £2 on a drink on a night out and think nothing of it? It didn't even need to be that much. A tin of value beans costs no more than 30p, I've seen people throw change from their pockets into the bin just because they couldn't be bothered to carry it around with them. I just thought that it was a brilliant idea and it has inspired me to look into charities local to me to see if they have any food bank schemes which I could volunteer at.
You can see the full details of the Tesco Food Collection here.
Did you see this scheme in any of your local Tesco over the weekend? Do you already support a similar charity? I'd love to hear any volunteering stories you may have.