Leeds-based supermarket Asda held an extra special Christmas celebration to thank volunteers at two local charities which provide food for people in need across Yorkshire as they face the busiest period of the year.

The two Leeds charities, which are part of Asda’s Fight Hunger Create Change partnership, are expecting to provide over 400,000 meals to vulnerable people across the region over the festive period as demand for emergency food parcels almost doubles.

FareShare Yorkshire, which diverts surplus food to over 200 frontline charities, is anticipating its biggest Christmas yet – at a time when more food surplus naturally occurs the charity is working to access as much as possible and ensure it gets onto the plates of people who need it most. Last year saw the charity provide enough food to create almost 130,000 meals to projects, such as homeless shelters, and FareShare predicts this year demand will be higher.

December 2018 was also the busiest month for food banks across the UK last year. In Yorkshire and Humberside, 8,866 three-day emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network to people in crisis in December last year; 3,586 of these went to children. This is the equivalent of 173,809 meals,* and a 9% increase from the same one-month period in 2017.

Asda brought Christmas to volunteers at FareShare Yorkshire and Leeds South & East Food Bank to thank them for their hard work all year round, as well as getting involved in helping pack and deliver the parcels.

The celebration was held at the FareShare Yorkshire warehouse in Beeston, which was opened last year following funding from Asda’s Fight Hunger Create Change partnership, an innovative and transformational programme between Asda, FareShare and the Trussell Trust that aims to create long-term positive change to poverty across the UK.
Representatives from Asda and the two charities came to show their gratitude to volunteers whose unsung work helps provide millions of meals each year for the most vulnerable people in and around Leeds.

Asda provided a Christmas lunch for the volunteers, while colleagues from its Leeds head office came to lend a helping hand in distributing food to charities across Yorkshire.

Stephi Brett-Lee, Asda’s Senior Director for Community, said: “We feel a responsibility to all the communities we operate in, but this is especially true in our home city of Leeds. The funding from our Fight Hunger Create Change partnership helps to build the infrastructure for people to be able to access good-quality food and services across the UK, but without volunteers we would not be able to reach the most vulnerable in our communities and for that we must say a huge thank you, at Christmas and all year round.”

Gareth Batty, Chief Executive of FareShare Yorkshire, said: “Each year the equivalent of 4 million Christmas dinners goes to waste – yet at the same time over 8 million people are struggling to afford to eat.

“For many vulnerable people Christmas can be a really difficult time, which is why our volunteers is working tirelessly to save as much delicious, nutritious food from waste and get it to people who need it most. Our volunteers are heroes at Christmas and throughout the year and its great their efforts have been recognised by Asda.”

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “For too many, this Christmas will not be a time of celebration. Every year our network of food banks sees a spike in need during December, and what we’re hearing from the frontline suggests this year more people than ever will be referred for help.

“Food bank volunteers in Leeds and across the rest of the country will be working hard to provide not only essential food, but also little extras that offer hope at a time when people need it most. We’re pleased to see volunteers’ hard work at this busy time recognised by Asda - and look forward to our work together in the coming year, bringing us closer to a future where no one needs help of a food bank.”

As part of Fight Hunger, Create Change, Asda is donating over £20 million to the two charities to improve their infrastructure so that more food can be distributed, as well as funding additional services that help the charities tackle the root causes of poverty.