Tesco’s Community Food Connection has served over 5 million meals to over 3,300 charities since it was launched last year.
The initiative is a part of the supermarket giant’s policy of ensuring minimal food waste throughout its UK stores and warehouses. The scheme was launched in February 2016 and involves Tesco stores giving their surplus food away to local charities and community action groups. This food is crucial to a number of charities set up to feed the homeless and other people in need, and in turn saves money that can be re-invested into other social services throughout the UK.
Tesco launched their scheme nationwide, alongside a small social enterprise, FoodCloud, and food redistribution charity, FareShare. This UK expansion came following a previous successful endeavour in Ireland. Community Food Connection links charities and community groups to their local Tesco stores through the use of a phone app. The app lets local charities know there is surplus food available at the end of each day. Community groups can then collect and use the food for their community work. At the time of writing, the scheme is live in 900 stores across the country, and there are plans to expand this into another 1,800.
Matt Davies, Tesco chief executive said: “It’s great to see the difference Community Food Connection is making to providing people in need with meals from food that would otherwise go to waste and services they need. We know we still have more to do to achieve our target that no food safe for human consumption goes to waste in our UK operations, but this is important progress.
“Our colleagues are playing a vital role. Together with our partners FareShare and FoodCloud, they are helping to make sure local charities across the UK have access to surplus food from our stores.”
Later in the year Tesco will roll-out the initiative to its convenience stores, which the company hopes will further increase the amount of people reached by the charity efforts and further minimisation of food waste. The retailer is asking local groups and charities to sign up to receive surplus food donations.
Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, said: “Tesco has led the way with introducing such a step-change in tackling their store surplus food and having seen the scheme grow and create such impact for vulnerable people, it proves that it can deliver very obvious results which can benefit other retailers and their local communities too.”