Red Cross backs food help scheme

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%British Red Cross workerA scheme to help hard-up families has received a massive boost after the British Red Cross agreed to come on board.

The aid agency has thrown its weight behind a campaign run by Tesco and two other charities, FareShare and the Trussell Trust, to help feed the needy.

The supermarket giant will be hosting teams from the British Red Cross's 30,000 volunteer network as they collect food donated by shoppers which will then be distributed by FareShare.

Tesco has implemented the National Food Collection plan before, and the British Red Cross will join forces next month.

The hike in basic food prices and soaring utility bills has put a further squeeze on UK families, with more than five million people living in deep poverty.

Nearly 500,000 people in the UK needed support from food banks last year, according to figures from the Trussell Trust.

Juliet Mountford, head of UK service development, said the Red Cross agreed to assist FareShare on the basis of "strong evidence of an increased need for support on food poverty issues".

"For British Red Cross it's a toe in the water," she said.

"It's the first step in considering whether we ought to be doing more on today's food poverty challenge."

Last month a report shed light on the chronic throw-away culture affecting the food industry, where u p to two-fifths of a crop of fruit or vegetables can be wasted because it is ''ugly''.

Produce grown in the UK that does not meet retailer standards on size or shape or is blemished is often used for animal feed or simply ploughed back into the ground even though it is edible, with as much as 40% of a crop rejected.

The report, commissioned by the UK's global food security programme, also showed that the average household throws away more than 5kg (11lb) of food per week, and nearly two-thirds of that is avoidable.

The waste costs £480 a year per household on average, and £680 per family.

Households throw away a fifth of the food they buy, wasting it for reasons ranging from cooking and preparing too much to not using it before it goes off, the study showed.

Consumption and initial production are the areas where the majority of food is wasted in the UK, the study said.

A Tesco spokesman said: "This Christmas, we'll be holding our third National Food Collection with the charities Trussell Trust and FareShare.

"With the help of our customers and colleagues, we managed to raise a fantastic 3.5 million meals during our last collection in July and we hope to collect even more for people in need this time.

"We're delighted that the Red Cross will be supporting the collection by helping to collect food at our stores across the country."

Today, speaking outside Stormont Castle in Belfast, Prime Minister David Cameron said: " I know that many families face difficult circumstances, obviously that is the case in our economy.

"But the best way for families to get out of poverty is to have work. What we are seeing here in Northern Ireland and right across the United Kingdom is more people in work, more people getting jobs and businesses expanding.

"It's that what we have to build on and that's what we are committed to right across the United Kingdom and what we have been talking about here in Northern Ireland today."

© 2013 Press Association
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