Tesco has donated more than 50 million meals of surplus food from its stores to charities and community groups over the past five years, the supermarket revealed today.
The food has been donated through the Community Food Connection scheme it operates with food redistribution charity FareShare. Every Tesco store in the UK participates in the scheme, which is celebrating five years of helping communities across the country. Each month more than a million meals of food are donated.
Since the start of the pandemic almost 700 new groups have signed up to receive food from the scheme, helping to respond to the needs of communities across the UK.
FareShare’s Chief Executive Lindsay Boswell said the scheme, the largest of its kind in the UK and believed to be the largest in Europe, was making a real difference.
“We are delighted that Tesco has reached this milestone – donating the equivalent of 50 million meals is no mean feat and has gone such a long way in supporting thousands of charities and community groups up and down the country,” he said. “The scheme is a real game-changer for organisations working with the vulnerable, allowing even more people to access good to eat food which would otherwise go to waste.”
The scheme works by pairing charities and community groups with their local Tesco store. At the end of each day a store colleague works out which food is likely to be unsold and then uses a specially-developed app to tell a local charity or community group what food can be collected.
One of the 7,000 local groups that have benefitted from the scheme is Matthews House in Swansea, which now sources 80% of the food it cooks in its community café from food surplus.
“Our community café serves around 380 hot meals every day to people in need,” said Matthew’s House project manager Thom Lynch. “Tesco was the first organisation to support us through food donations, since we signed up to Community Food Connection we’ve served over 60,000 meals to the most vulnerable in our community.”
Community Food Connection is just one of the ways that Tesco is tackling the issue of food waste, and it has played a key part in ensuring that 77% of the surplus food from Tesco stores no longer goes to waste.
Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry said: “Tesco Community Food Connection has made a real difference to communities. Now that we are five years into the scheme the fact that we have donated 50m meals allows us to reflect on its success, and the difference the scheme has made not only in feeding people in communities across the UK but also to tackling climate change. However, there is more to do, and we are looking at how we can divert even more food from waste in future.”