GENEROUS Tesco customers in Sale and Altrincham have donated 5,092 meals to families in need this Christmas, writes Lauren Wood.

The supermarket asked shoppers to donate long-life items to the Food Collection scheme as part of their usual shop, and topped up customer donations by 20 per cent, meaning that a huge total of 3 million meals from Tesco branches across the UK were donated to food charities FareShare and the Trussell Trust.

Since Tesco started the Food Collection scheme started in 2012, customers have donated more than 49 million meals to the cause.

Tesco’s head of community, Alec Brown, said: “Every year we are taken aback by the generosity of customers who give to the food collection in our stores across the UK. We know that this annual collection makes a real difference in Sale and Altrincham and we would like to thank everyone who has donated, volunteered or helped with the food collection in store. Food collection is just one of the ways that Tesco has been supporting the two food charities. A donation to the charities has also been made for every fresh turkey sold in Tesco stores and for every pack of Tesco Finest Candy Cane flavoured crisps sold over the festive period."

Money was also raised from the sale of festive 'hats with a heart' produced by the supermarket's clothing range F&F, with £1 from each of the 164, 000 hats sold being split between the two charities.

As Christmas can be particularly difficult for families in need FareShare and The Trussell Trust both see an increase in the need for donations at this time of year. The food donated to The Trussell Trust is given in emergency food parcels to people who are referred to them because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their families, and FareShare distributes their donations to charities and community groups who use it to provide meals for vulnerable groups, such as isolated older people and those in homeless shelters.

Both charities were extremely grateful for the donations and Lindsay Boswell, CEO at FareShare, thanked Tesco customers for their generosity. He said:

“The food donated at the Tesco Food Collection will make a tremendous difference to the thousands of charities and community groups that FareShare supports. These groups are doing amazing work with some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Thanks to the generosity of Tesco shoppers over the festive season, we have enough long-life food to provide more than 900,000 meals. We’d like to thank everyone who donated, as well as all the volunteers who made the store collections such a success.”

Samantha Stapley, Operations Manager at anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust, also thanked those who made the donations possible: “Our foodbank network has spent the last month making sure that people referred to them with no money for food don’t go hungry this Christmas. This work has been made possible thanks to the incredible generosity of Tesco customers, store colleagues and volunteers during the Food Collection. Thank you for your support - your generosity has stopped hunger this Christmas.”