Community groups urged to apply for share in Co-op £1.5m to help fight hunger

Community groups across the UK now being urged to apply to a new fund with £1.5m available to help fight hunger locally. Co-op donated the money to the National Emergencies Trust from sales of its summer picnic range and applications are being accepted from today.

Foodbanks, volunteer centres, food delivery services and, outreach services for those at risk of isolation are among local organisations encouraged to apply to receive a much-needed cash boost to help them continue their vital work during this unprecedented time.

The emergency funding raised is now being distributed by 46 Community Foundations across the UK, who will award grants to local organisations.

The retailer pledged to donate 20p from sales of its three-for-two picnic offer to the National Emergencies Trust (NET) in order to fund grassroots projects across the country which provide access to food and promote well-being in communities.

Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community and shared value at the Co-op, said, “It’s heart-breaking to think of families and children in the UK going hungry and facing such acute challenges during this unprecedented time. The need faced by many families is only growing and we continue to do all we can to support the most vulnerable to gain access to the food they need.

'Our co-operation with NET and UK Community Foundations means this funding can quickly go to work. Focusing on what really matters in local communities and providing direct support to those who most need it to make a difference to their health and wellbeing.”

Mhairi Sharp, interim CEO at National Emergencies Trust, commented, 'With the pandemic continuing to pose significant challenges to families and individuals across the UK, we're delighted that an impressive £1.5million has been raised and will be distributed across grassroots organisations during the winter months.

'The National Emergencies Trust was set up to collaborate with charities, corporates and the public to raise and distribute money as efficiently as possible and our partnership with Co-op and the UK Community Foundations reflects what can be achieved by a truly collaborative effort.'

Rosemary Macdonald, CEO at UK Community Foundations, said, “Pre-existing food poverty has really been compounded by the pandemic and we’ve seen huge demand for the services of local charities and community organisations that can provide relief to people struggling to access food. As we enter the winter months this situation will get worse for many.

'Using the expert local knowledge of our network of community foundations we will ensure that the money raised by our partners will go the local organisations best placed to support the people and communities affected by food poverty.”

This month, Co-op also pledged to provide vouchers during October half term for over 6,000 eligible students in its 25 Academies across the North of England. In addition, it has also raised funds and donated stock to provide over five million meals for the food charity Fare Share, which provides essentials to over 4,000 community food banks across the country.

Local organisations are urged to apply to the Community Foundations for funding before Friday 13 November.