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Asda urged to reinstate food bank collection points

THE food bank run by Fair Frome could be set to lose nearly a quarter of its donations after supermarket giant Asda banned unmanned collections in its stores.

A change to Asda’s company policy means no food bank collections can be made in store without a volunteer present. This is a move that local welfare charity Fair Frome, which relies on a collection point at the Warminster Road store for nearly 25% of its  food bank donations, says will have a huge impact on local people.

Fair Frome chairman Bob Ashford said, “We are extremely disappointed by Asda’s decision to stop food bank collections in store. We currently collect almost a quarter of our local supplies from Asda and this move will have a huge impact, especially as the demand for food parcels is growing. We have been working with Asda locally for over a year and the staff at the store couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive.

“The relationship was mutually beneficial – customers bought more than their weekly shop for food bank donations, and Fair Frome and our service users benefited from customers’ generosity.”

Before the change, Fair Frome could leave a collection point unsupervised throughout the store’s opening hours – a total of 90 hours during a normal working week. It now needs a volunteer to be at the store whenever it wants to collect.

Bob continued, “Asda have announced that food bank donations can be made in store if charities book available times  and use volunteers  to collect the food. Even if we could find the additional volunteers we would need, this means supplies will be uncertain and intermittent and is certain to have an impact on our ability to meet the rising demand.”

A national online petition urging Asda to rethink its decision has been signed by over 85,000 people.

Asda has said the new measures are to make sure collections are run ‘properly and professionally’.

A company spokesperson said, “We’re very happy to host food bank collections in our stores and we know that our generous customers and colleagues can make a huge difference with their donations.

“We welcome food bank collectors in our stores if volunteers are on hand to explain to customers where their donations are going – we know this also increases the amount of food donated.”

But Asda did not respond to Frome Times’ questions about whether they considered it realistic for volunteers to man the collection point during opening hours.

Bob hopes Asda will rethink its decision, but insists the food bank will continue at other stores in Frome.

He said, “We would urge Asda to, in its own phrase, ‘roll back’ its decision. Those wishing to donate in the meantime can of course switch their donations to other supermarkets and stores in the town such as Sainsbury’s, Westway Co-op and Frome Wholefoods.”

Find out more about Fair Frome’s work online at www.fairfrome.org

National food bank charity The Trussell Trust revealed last year that a ‘record number’ of people had used food banks run by the charity in 2014-15; aid was given over 1million times, and saw a rise of 19% on the previous year. The figures did not account for the many food banks run by other charities and organisations.

 

 

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