Relief as Asda returns its food bank collection

Fleetwood Food Bank and its supporters have welcomed supermarket chain Asda's decision to reinstate permanent collection points for food banks in all its stores.

Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 12:00 pm
Layla Hampton and Ken Hayton from Fleetwood Food Bank, with two trolley loads of donated food.

Alan Johnson, 79, of The Croft, Fleetwood, is a regular contributor to the town’s food bank and was so dismayed when the chain called a halt to its collection points, he wrote to the company in protest.

The collection point at Fleetwood allows shoppers to buy imperishable dry food items at the store and place them in a special, permanent trolley in the store, where the items can be collected.

It has been a considerable source of support for Fleetwood Food Bank, which provides essential supplies to low income residents in the town.

Asda withdrew the trolleys from its stores in January and instead was asking volunteers to be on hand to talk to customers and explain where their donations were going.

But Asda’s decision was seen as a major blow to food banks and other charities and prompted a huge nationwide 88,000-name petition.

On Monday this week, the trolleys returned to all Asda stores in the UK.

Mr Johnson said this week: “My wife and I are regular contributors to the food bank in this town, and I was disappointed to see the collection end. Fleetwood Food Bank provides vital service to residents who are struggling to get by. I wrote a letter to Asda to express my concern that the Fleetwood Food Bank alone could lose thousands of pounds worth of food provisions as a result. I’m absolutely delighted they’ve come around to the view of food bank supporters and have reinstated the collection system, which has always worked very well.”

Fleetwood Foodbank is run by Catholic charity, the St Vincent de Paul Society and operates on a referral basis.

Sessions are currently held at the Mount Methodist Church premises – now occupied by Emmanuel Church - on Wednesdays from 10am to 3pm.

Sue Gow, of Fleetwood Food Bank, said: “The collection trolley gives people a chance to support the food bank in their own comfort zone and we’re delighted it is back. A number of our supporters backed the nationwide petition. Common sense has won out.”

Asda has more than 525 UK stores and is owned by the US retailer Walmart.

An Asda spokesperson said: “As a retailer who is committed to supporting our local communities we never intended to stop food banks or similar local charities collecting in our stores. We made some changes to our community programme around unmanned collections in the belief that this would benefit the many local good causes who collect in our stores.

“On this occasion our customers and colleagues have told us they understand our intentions, but prefer us to continue to give charities more options to maximise donations. We are therefore reinstating unmanned collection points.”

To contact Fleetwood Foodbank phone 0782 1498161.