Foyle Foodbank helping people in crisis with support from Tesco food donations.

Foyle Foodbank is being aided in its vital work supporting people unable to afford essentials thanks to a £15m UK-wide donation of food from Tesco.

The food bank went into the Covid-19 crisis with good stock levels, as local people had been particularly generous over Christmas, but the need for extra food quickly became clear as the pandemic sparked greater need from the community than ever before.

With almost 90% of Foyle Foodbank’s stock coming from donations in local supermarkets, the increase in donations from Tesco are proving vital to the food bank’s work.

“Tesco’s food donations have helped us greatly, as they are sending essential items that we would run short of most of the year,” said the food bank’s manager James McMenamin.

“In the past two months 200 families a month have been using our services, so these extra donations ensure we can distribute as many essential food packages as possible to the most vulnerable in our community.”

Since 1 January the food bank’s local Tesco Superstore at Quayside Shopping Centre has donated over 800kg of food donations. However, Tesco’s increased food donations as a response to the pandemic has seen more than a tonne of extra food delivered to the food bank in the past three weeks, with more deliveries to come.

The current pandemic has led to changes being made across the food bank’s services, with new measures in place to protect volunteers and people needing support. To comply with social distancing guidelines, the food bank now only offers pre-packed food parcels, which are delivered to recipients waiting in their cars outside of the food bank.

Foyle Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network. Tesco is donating the additional £15m of food to support its partner charities the Trussell Trust and FareShare to respond to the extra demands to provide emergency food supplies caused by the pandemic.

Already 62 trucks full of Tesco food donations have been delivered to the two charities, with more than 58 tonnes of food being delivered to the FareShare regional centre in Belfast to support 115 charities with 136,908 meals-worth of food, and enough long-life food.

Recent figures released by the Trussell Trust show that demand at food banks has increased by more than 80% amidst the pandemic.

Paul Armstrong, the Trussell Trust’s operations manager for Northern Ireland, said:

“We’re incredibly grateful for Tesco’s continued support throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Food banks in our network across Northern Ireland have gone above and beyond to ensure they’re able to continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food. These additional food donations from Tesco have helped to ensure people in financial crisis in Northern Ireland are able to access the emergency food and support they need during these challenging times.”

The £15m of additional food donated by Tesco is part of a £30m package of support which also includes a £1m cash donation to the Trussell Trust and FareShare to support their running costs, a £2m donation to the British Red Cross and a £2m pot from its Bags of Help community donation scheme to support local charities and community groups supporting vulnerable people with £500 grants.

“In every part of the UK there are charities and community groups doing amazing work to feed people during the pandemic, and we are glad that we have been able to support them in helping so many vulnerable people,” said Tesco’s Head of Community, Claire De Silva.

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