A project that sees unsold food distributed to charities is coming to Lichfield.
Central England Co-op has teamed up with FareShare East Midlands to see the scheme introduced across all of the company’s stores following a successful trial.
The project sees food and some non-food items that cannot be solved distributed to 250 charities across the region.
Hannah Gallimore, Central England Co-operative Society’s corporate responsibility manager, said: “Food waste is a topic customers and colleagues regularly talk to us about and it is an area that has always been at the forefront of plans at the society.
“We have been looking for a solution to this issue for many years and are now proud to be able to reveal our plan to tackle food waste in a manner that also has a major impact for our communities and our partners.
“This is why, following the success of our pilot project, we are delighted to be able to announce that we are rolling it out across our trading estate in an effort to drive down food waste and at the same time have a major impact by helping people in need in our communities.”
The trial saw more than 12,000 meals delivered to people in need from nine stores, leading the company to speed up a wider roll-out.
Hannah added: “One of the main reasons we are so proud of this project is the fact that it is unique and innovative.
“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.
“It also stands out because we believe it is the first of its kind to use an existing distribution network to collect items and then deliver them to charity.
“We are aiming to initially cut food waste by 40%, but it is our long-term goal that 100% of best before goods that have not been sold will not be wasted and instead be redistributed and put to use by good causes.
“This will help us minimise food waste and reduce our impact on the environment but, most importantly, help make a real difference for people in need.”
The company said changes to national guidelines on best before products had made the initiative possible.
FareShare East Midlands’ director Simone Connolly said: “The combined effort between us will ensure that thousands more people across our region will 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.”