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Retailer steps up fight against food poverty

Online food and drink retailer Approved Food has made more donations to help feed vulnerable people in need of a hot meal.

The company has made another substantial donation of products to volunteers at Wakefield Street Kitchen, who will use the sauces, soups and snacks to provide nutritious meals for the homeless, with more planned for the near future.

And cases of soft drinks have been collected by Dewsbury Street Kitchen to be distributed to clients on outreach nights.

Approved Food MD Andy Needham has pledged to continue to the donations programme to help organisations in their fight against food poverty. Last year, the business donated more than 30,000 items to food banks, street kitchens, drop-in centres and animal sanctuaries as well as making cash donations to charities that support vulnerable families.

The move follows a row over the contents of food parcels given to parents of children who qualify for free school meals. One mother valued the contents of her parcel at just over a fiver if they had been bought in a high street supermarket. It contained two jacket potatoes, a can of beans, eight cheese slices, a loaf of bread, two carrots, three apples, two small malt loaves, three yogurts, pasta and a tomato.

Approved Food brand ambassador Jonathan Straight said food poverty had been a problem for years but had been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Jonathan, who currently chairs the board of the TRJFP Charitable Foundation (the Real Junk Food Project) and is also a member of the influential Courtauld 2025 Steering Group, said when the pandemic struck, food banks had already been experiencing a year-on-year rise in the number of clients. Now, with unemployment predicted to rise significantly when the furlough scheme ends, the situation was looking increasingly bleak.

“As a business, Approved Food is happy to support these fantastic volunteers who help the most vulnerable in our society. However, with tough times ahead it is clear that the issue of food poverty is not going to go away overnight and the powers that be need to take a long, hard look at what can be done not only to support those providing help but to tackle the root causes of the problem.”

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest network of food banks, estimates six parcels will given out every minute through its network alone. During the first lockdown, it reported a rise of 107 per cent in the number of parcels given to children.

“Clearly, this is neither acceptable nor sustainable,” Jonathan added. “As a business, we provide support where we can but this is an issue that needs to be addressed at the highest level, and quickly.”

Approved Food, based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, has donated food and household essentials to food banks and other good causes regularly since it was established 11 years ago. It also campaigns to raise awareness of food waste through a better understanding of food labelling.

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