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Student food donations have fed over 1,200 vulnerable people this term

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The use of food banks in the UK is on the up, with a record number of meals being provided to those in need in 2017.


Food poverty is an issue that has attracted the interested of the United Nations in recent months, yet it is still one that is too easily ignored. According to the Trussell Trust, between April 2017 and March 2018 1,332,952 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis, representing a 13% increase on the previous year.

The number of people reliant on food banks is at a shameful level and is only on the increase, and the government is offering little support. That is why the work of organisations such as the Co-op and their partnerships with charities such as the Trussell Trust are becoming of increasing importance.

How is the problem being addressed?

Since its inception in 1844, Co-op has existed with a set of core values and principles. These values include ‘Concern for the Community’, which involves supporting the local communities they serve, as well as ‘Self-Help’, which involves joining together and making a difference, whether in supporting a local or national charity.

Co-op is abiding by these values through two programmes: firstly Co-op Food Share, which which enables Co-op stores to donate quality food  directly to local community groups as part of a national food redistribution programme, and secondly with collection points for unwanted food on university campuses. Both programmes offer vital support to those who are being let down by the current social climate.

Co-op’s student food bank scheme

Between June and September, a total of 1,112.58 kg of food has been donated through the university food bank scheme, which equates to 1,276 meals being provided. The largest donations in this period have been from the University of Leeds, which donated a staggering 307.58 kg of food.

Co-op food bin at the University of Leeds // Credit: Campus Media

Leeds is one of ten universities that have been involved in the scheme. Others include the University of Manchester, London School of Economics and Glasgow, which have donated 160, 30 and 66 meals respectively.

The success of the campaign means Co-op are rolling their food bins out to another ten universities in January, meaning 20 campuses will be involved in the scheme.

As part of the student food bin scheme, Co-op works closely with the Trussell Trust, which runs over 420 food banks across the UK that provide emergency food to people referred for support. All food collected as part of the scheme is donated to Trussell Trust foodbanks in the areas surrounding their respective universities. Through Co-op’s work with the student food bin scheme, fewer people are going hungry - and students are at the forefront of this.

Tackling food waste with Food Share  

Food waste is a big issue for supermarkets: every year 18 million tonnes of food end up in landfill. Often certain foods cannot be sold for a variety of reasons, despite being suitable for consumption, and thus is confined to the bin and then landfill. Co-op Food Share is combating this: through the scheme, the food that would normally go to waste is being offered for free to approved partners that can put it to use feeding people in the community. Food Share is a prime example of how the Co-op as an organisation is conscious of the social and environmental climate we find ourselves in, particularly within the UK.

Without the charitable work of the Co-op many people within the UK would be in worse situation than they are. The work of Co-op and the introduction of their student food bin and Food share programmes show how the little it takes to make a big difference to someone - whether that be in your local community or the UK as a whole.

So next time you see a Co-op food bin on campus, make sure you drop off those tins that’ve been languishing in the back of your cupboard since freshers week. Watch this space to see where they’ll be popping up next term...

If you would like to find our more about the work of the Co-op Food Share scheme please click here.

Students get 10% off at Co-op with a Totum or NUS extra card. Find your local Co-op here.

For more inspiration from Co-op throughout the year follow @coopukfood.

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