A REDDITCH church is just one group to have benefitted from the 30,000 meals of surplus food donated from Tesco to the town over the last five years.

It comes as the supermarket giant has reached a milestone of donating 50 million meals to communities around the country as part of the Community Food Connection scheme it operates with food redistribution charity FareShare.

The Assemblies of God Church in Redditch signed up to the Community Food Connection in July 2017 to help those in need.

Since then the Elm Road church's numbers have grown from just five or six to over 30 regular visitors, with the pandemic increasing demand.

The scheme works by pairing charities and community groups with their local Tesco store, from where they can have donations of unsold food.

Church Minister Elaine Palmer-Taylor said: “As we used to be self-funded, the donations from Tesco mean we’re now able to help so many more people in need.

“We’re careful to make sure that no food goes to waste, so we make soup from the vegetables, and depending on what else we receive we make dishes such as spaghetti bolognaise or sweet and sour chicken – anything left over goes into food parcels.

“These meals are important to people for so many reasons – whether it’s because they’re on their own or because they’re not able to afford to feed themselves.

“The donations we receive through Community Food Connection mean we’re able to support more vulnerable people in Redditch who would otherwise not leave the house or eat a decent meal.

“We’re grateful to all the staff at Tesco – they’ve gone out of their way to help us, whether that’s by helping us with food hygiene regulations, recipe ideas or making sure we’re getting a good variety of food to use.”

Across the UK 7,000 charities and community groups have benefitted from the scheme, with 361 groups currently receiving surplus food from Tesco stores in the West Midlands.

Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry said: “Tesco Community Food Connection has made a real difference to communities. Now that we are five years into the scheme the fact that we have donated 50m meals allows us to reflect on its success, and the difference the scheme has made not only in feeding people in communities across the UK but also to tackling climate change.

"However, there is more to do, and we are looking at how we can divert even more food from waste in future.”