Store donates 17,000 meals to those in need

Tesco Hemsworth gave away seven tonnes of food - the equivalent of 17,000 meals.
 (Picture ref: AB094a0417)
Tesco Hemsworth gave away seven tonnes of food - the equivalent of 17,000 meals. (Picture ref: AB094a0417)

Nearly 17,000 meals have been served up to those in need thanks to a new supermarket project.

Tesco in Hemsworth has donated more than 7.5 tonnes of food to three charities and organisations helping disadvantaged people across the region in just six months.

It launched the initiative at the start of October to make the most of goods which would otherwise be going to waste.

Simon Heptinstall, who has been manager at the store for two years, said: “We used to throw all this food away but now if it’s fit for human consumption, organisations can take it away.

“The project has transformed the charities and organisations we have helped so far.

“They have gone from having a few donations to getting a lot of food guaranteed to help them help those in need.

“It’s fantastic to think that we are making a massive contribution within the area that we are based.

“If you put all that food together in a pile, it is a staggering amount.

“Tesco has made a pledge that by the end of the year we want to have no food waste that it still fit for human consumption.

“Through the Community Food Connection Programme, we work with local charities and community groups, donating food to them which they can then make use of for people who are homeless or in need.”

So far, the project has supported Wakefield Baptist Church, which runs a night shelter providing emergency accommodation for homeless people across the district, the Yorkshire Homeless Project, and Soup4em, which feeds rough sleepers and their dogs in the South Elmsall, South Kirkby and Upton areas.

Every night, a volunteer from one of the organisations visits the store and collects food leftover from that day. Some food was also used to cook a Christmas dinner for people getting support through Soup4em.

Mr Heptinstall, 34, said they hope to expand the initiative to help more community groups carry out their relief work in the coming months.

The Tesco scheme comes at a time when local aid organisations including St Catherine’s Food Bank and the Community Awareness Programme are reporting increasing demand.

They say they are struggling to reed rising numbers of people in need, who have been hit by poverty and cuts to unemployment payments.

Mr Heptinstall said: “The thought of anyone in the UK in such desperate need for food makes us all realise how we need to make sure we all help where we can.

“If all large food retailers work together we can make a huge difference nationally.”