Food banks across the south are set to benefit from a new fund set up by a regional co-operative.
Southern Co-op has made an initial donation of £5,000 to its Feed a Family Fund so local food banks can start applying for help straightaway.
The independent co-operative is also asking its customers and members to donate to its fund which will enable local groups to purchase essential equipment or cover running costs.
The micro grants of £200, which will be distributed via the online platform Neighbourly, will ensure the funding helps a wide number of food banks and reaches those who need it most.
Holly Bramble, Southern Co-op’s Community and Campaign Co-ordinator, said: “Our customers, colleagues and members have been incredibly generous throughout the pandemic. They have been donating goods at all of our stores that have collection points and have helped thousands of people being supported by 44 different food banks.
“At the start of the pandemic, we also donated £100,000 to help a variety of local causes including FareShare – the UK’s largest hunger fighting charity. But more needs to be done.
“There are pockets of poverty in a number of areas where we have colleagues working in retail stores, funeral care and coffee branches. We know this won’t solve the crisis but we really hope this fund will help reduce the strain faced by so many families.”
Donations to the Feed a Family Fund can be made at the till in a Southern Co-op retail store or via www.neighbourly.com/FeedAFamilyFund. Or visit the website to find out more information about applying for the grants.
Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, said: “Small amounts can make a big difference for local causes, who have proved themselves to be some of the most innovative through the pandemic, and we need to make every effort to ensure that all at-risk people get the help they need as we continue to respond to and recover from this crisis.
“UK charities face a massive funding gap. If we can get immediate support to existing local causes, we’ll go a long way to ensuring the resilience and recovery of our communities.”
There are currently 75 stores with food bank collection points for product donations in Berkshire, Bristol, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, London, Somerset, Surrey, West Sussex and Wiltshire. To find out if a local store has a foodbank collection, visit https://stores.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/search.html.