We are delighted to announce that we are backing Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford’s Child Food Poverty Task Force.
We have long campaigned for more to be done to ensure that no child ever goes hungry and work every day of the year with over 65 food banks and FareShare Midlands to help create hundreds of thousands of meals for those at risk of falling into food poverty.
Now, we are standing together with Marcus Rashford and other major retailers and charities in an effort to encourage the government to find and deliver a long-term permanent solution to child food poverty.
Debbie Robinson, Central England Co-operative Chief Executive, said: “We have now been working with our food bank partners to try and combat holiday hunger for many years, yet we continue to see demand for food bank support spike as what they now offer has sadly become a permanent solution rather than an emergency response.
“We all want to get to a point where we do not have to rely on the generosity of our members and customers to ensure children do not go hungry every single summer and this is why are delighted to join the Marcus Rashford Child Food Poverty Task Force and back calls for the Government to urgently address this problem and put an end to holiday hunger. Free school meals and vouchers are great but not enough.”
The task force will seek to encourage the Government to implement the following recommendations from the interim National Food Strategy report, commissioned by the Government and written by Henry Dimbleby, without delay.
· Expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on universal credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5million seven to 16 year olds
· Expansion of holiday provision (food and activities) to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1million children
· Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10) and expanding into all those on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 pregnant women and children under the age of four
Joining this task force comes on the back of a summer that has seen Central England Co-op continue its annual link-up with over 65 food bank partners to collect vital items to ensure children do not go hungry.
So far, over 100,000 items have been donated and used by food banks to create 30,000 meals – with more expected as the campaign runs until the end of the month.
All customers and members to support the Summer Support for Kids campaign is drop items off in special collection points located in every store.
Items that can be donated include shopping basket staples from tea, sugar and cereals to other essentials such as toiletries and hygiene products. Also, food banks have requested drinks for children, as well as vital sun cream and after sun.
For the first time this year other items needed include small arts and crafts items such as crayons and paints, as well as school supplies such as pencil cases and stationery.
The retailer also donated £100,000 to its long-standing partner FareShare Midlands to help with its work to combat the issue among youngsters and their families following a spike in demand that is seen every single summer.