East of England Co-op launches gift card to support local foodbanks this Christmas

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Our region’s largest independent retailer has introduced a foodbank donation card which customers can buy to give as a present to loved ones this Christmas.

The gift card, which can be bought in all 122 East of England Co-op Foodstores, is among several initiatives the retailer has been leading to tackle food injustice in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the East of England Co-op has donated over £82,000 to local foodbanks to support families in food poverty under an emergency package of support launched to help community groups and services across the region.

This latest initiative from the retailer follows a Food Bank Summit in September and last month’s virtual Food Justice Conference in which the East of England Co-op brought together local organisations striving for food justice, to understand how they could further help reduce food poverty.

Stowmarket and Area Foodbank Manager, Mike Smith said: “The food donations we receive are vital to us, without them we wouldn’t be able to offer the support we do to people in our communities struggling with food poverty. Christmas is a time of giving so we tend to get a significantly higher level of food donations through December than any other time of year. When we came together with other local foodbanks at the last Foodbank Summit in September we all agreed that financial support is the thing that we’re most in need of over the festive period. The East of England Co-op’s foodbank donation card will help us to provide vital support to our communities throughout the year when we have fewer donations of food and supplies coming in.”

The East of England Co-op’s foodbank donation card costs £5 and when you buy one the money you pay will be donated to the foodbank connected to the store in which the card is purchased. The card, which contains a message of thanks for helping local people in crisis, can then be gifted to a loved one in a Christmas card or placed under the tree as a gift to let them know that a donation has been made on their behalf.

East of England Co-op Joint Chief Executive, Niall O’Keeffe said: “Our local foodbanks provide a lifeline for those in our community struggling with food poverty and our foodbanks have shown incredible dedication and commitment in supporting families and individuals across our region throughout the pandemic.

“As a local community retailer, we are proud to support our local foodbanks and their amazing volunteers that work tirelessly to ensure that those in need in our community don’t go without.  

“During the summer our generous customers, colleagues and members donated almost 5 tonnes of food via our holiday hunger campaign.

“I know that we can count upon our community to show their support for local foodbanks once again this Christmas by giving a gift of a foodbank donation card.”

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the East of England Co-op has been undertaking a number of initiatives with the aim of reducing food poverty. This summer the retailer held an in-store donation drive in which colleagues, customers and members donated 4.7 tonnes of food supplies to foodbanks across our region. The retailer also works closely with local foodbanks to understand what their most needed items are each month, these are in turn promoted in store to ensure customers know how to make the greatest impact with their donations. In addition to their foodbank donation card, the East of England Co-op has also joined other Co-ops across the country in asking members and customers to support local foodbanks by donating luxury items as a Christmas treat for families and individuals in need.