Asda has sought to reassure the public after a policy change, which removes unmanned food bank collection points in UK stores, alarmed some charities.
The donation points allowed customers to give food bought from Asda stores, as well as brought in from home, to charities helping the less fortunate and are a vital source of produce for many food banks in the UK.
Adrian Curtis, Trussell Trust UK Foodbank Network Director, said: ‘We’ve heard from some of our food banks, and some Asda shoppers, that Asda have changed their policy on hosting permanent foodbank collection points in their stores.
“The Trussell Trust doesn’t have a national relationship with Asda at the moment, but we’d really like to engage with them to find out more about this decision and to see if there’s a way that we can find a positive solution to it.
“We know that being able to easily donate food to local people in crisis matters to communities, and that permanent food bank collection points in supermarkets help ensure that food banks have a steady supply of food donations.
“Trussell Trust food banks currently have over 400 permanent collection points in Tesco stores, and over 180 in Waitrose stores, as well as some in Sainsburys’ and The Co-op, and these are working well for local food banks, which is why we’d be interested in talking to Asda.”
An Asda spokesperson confirmed that there has been a change of policy regarding charity collections, but insisted that charities are still welcome in Asda stores: “Asda plays an important role in the communities we serve. We know we can make a huge difference to local charities and our customers and colleagues are generous when it comes to supporting their local communities, which is why we try to make sure we host a variety of good causes in our stores.
“We’ve recently reviewed the Asda Community programme and are investing an extra £2m into local good causes through the Asda Foundation. We’re also introducing some new processes and guidelines to make it fair and consistent for all the great charities we support and to enable our Community Champions to make the best use of their time.”
Asda feel that charities will see a better response in store due to the policy change, as it will mean any collection points will need to be manned by charity representatives:
“Food banks are very welcome to collect donations in Asda if volunteers are on hand to explain to customers where their donations are going, which we know increases the amount of food donated.”
Food bank use in Britain is at record levels. Figures from the Trussell Trust, who co-ordinate a UK-wide network of 400 foodbanks, show that they distributed 506,369 three-day emergency food packs between April and September last year, a rise from 492,641 the previous year.
As well as engaging with local charitable bodies, Asda donates 1,500 tonnes of food every year directly to FareShare, a national charity which donates food to 2,135 charities and community groups nationally.