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Supermarket donates millions of meals across South Wales

Community Food Connection. Picture by Andrew Parsons / i-Images

Tesco has donated 3.3 million meals of surplus food across South Wales, the supermarket revealed today, as it hit a milestone of 50 million meals being donated across the UK.

Enough food to give everyone in Wales a meal, the food has been donated through the Community Food Connection scheme it operates with food redistribution charity FareShare. Every Tesco store in the UK participates in the scheme, which is celebrating five years of helping communities across the country, and sees more than a million meals donated every month.

Since the start of the pandemic almost 700 new groups have signed up to receive food from the scheme, helping to respond to the needs of communities across the UK.

FareShare’s Chief Executive Lindsay Boswell said the scheme, the largest of its kind in the UK and believed to be the largest in Europe, was making a real difference.

“We are delighted that Tesco has reached this milestone – donating the equivalent of 50 million meals is no mean feat and has gone such a long way in supporting thousands of charities and community groups up and down the country,” he said. “The scheme is a real game-changer for organisations working with the vulnerable, allowing even more people to access good to eat food which would otherwise go to waste.”

The scheme works by pairing charities and community groups with their local Tesco store. At the end of each day a store colleague works out which food is likely to be unsold and then uses a specially-developed app to tell a local charity or community group what food can be collected.

Across the UK 7,000 charities and community groups have benefitted from the scheme, with over 170 groups currently receiving surplus food from Tesco stores across Wales

Among the groups that receives donated food from the scheme is Faith in Families, a Swansea-based centre which aims to support disadvantaged communities across the area. It has been supported in its work by donations of surplus food from Tesco stores in Swansea.

Leanne Evans, a manager at Teilo’s Community Cwtch, said: “The donations from Tesco truly help to keep the centre afloat. Last year alone, we supported 7,900 people who came to us for a helping hand. Because of this demand, budgets are tight, and if we can save money in any way, it really helps us allocate vital funding to where families need it most.”

Leanne continued: “We are incredibly grateful for the support that we receive from Tesco through the Community Food Connection scheme and are thrilled with the partnership we built over the last couple of years.

“As a result of Tesco’s involvement in the scheme we can now help 150 people per week. We sort the food donations into two groups, one which can be used at the centre and another which can go towards members of the community to help them out at home. We also top up the food pantry in the church so items can be put towards the food parcels we collect.

“Not only has the Community Food Connection scheme been a vital lifeline in saving money through the donations, it has also strengthened our partnership with our two local Tesco stores. We have a great relationship with the store’s Community Champions and they regularly volunteer with us, helping us run our food groups.”
Donna Costa, Community Champion at Tesco Swansea Extra, said: “The work Teilo’s Community Cwtch carry out every week for people in need is nothing short of remarkable. In our time supporting the group, we’ve built a really strong relationship with them.

“We regularly go across to the site and support the staff with their breakfast and lunch clubs and play schemes for toddlers and young children. It’s been excellent to see the impact the CFC programme has had on people in our community, and emphasises just how important services like Teilo’s Community Cwtch are to the community.”

Community Food Connection is just one of the ways that Tesco is tackling the issue of food waste, and it has played a key part in ensuring that 77% of the surplus food from Tesco stores no longer goes to waste.

Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry said: “Tesco Community Food Connection has made a real difference to communities. Now that we are five years into the scheme the fact that we have donated 50m meals allows us to reflect on its success, and the difference the scheme has made not only in feeding people in communities across the UK but also to tackling climate change. However, there is more to do, and we are looking at how we can divert even more food from waste in future.”