Removal of Barking and Dagenham food bank collection points could cost charity ‘30% of stock’
PUBLISHED: 15:53 18 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:28 18 February 2016
The head of a food bank has said a supermarket’s decision to remove its collection points will have a “huge impact” on stocks.
Asda – which has outlets in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath – will no longer offer its customers the chance to drop off items for charities in unmanned trolleys and baskets at the front of stores.
Obi Michael Onyeabo, who runs Barking Food Bank – which is run by the Trussell Trust – said the retailer’s move means he must now look for other sources of produce.
“We have two major collection points, one of which is Asda, so it means we could lose up to 30 per cent of our stock – it’s going to have a huge impact,” he said.
“I’m not looking forward to finding a way to fill the gap, but we’re going to have to show Asda what the affect will be and try to change their minds.
“We’re feeding 3,000 families a year at the moment – if anything goes in the stock you can imagine the impact it will have on those families.”
Asda said it will still permit food bank collections in its stores – but only if volunteers from charities are on hand to “explain to customers where their donations are going.”
But Obi explained that the problem is not merely that food stocks will be lost, but also that precious manpower will now have to be redirected.
“We’re going to have to run food drives and go to schools and other places to make up for it,” he said. “But we only have so many volunteers.
“Asda is one of the biggest shops in the borough, so not having the trolleys and baskets there means not having those people donating food – but it also means we can’t raise awareness as easily as when it was at the front of the store.”
Meanwhile, the man in charge of the Dagenham Food Bank also expressed his unhappiness at the superstore’s decision.
“It is disappointing they should stop it,” Pastor Remi Odedoyin said.
“How many people will suffer? How many food banks will suffer?
“To reduce the amount of food a food bank can get is a bad idea.”
An Asda spokesperson said: “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.
“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. Asda is a leader in the redistribution of food through our partnership with Fareshare and Company Shop, and we look forward to continuing to support them and local food banks in the future.”
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