Tesco is expanding its food donation programme to help families eat more fresh fruit and vegetables over the winter. From November 16th, the supermarket will give any of the 500,000 families who use the weekly Healthy Start vouchers a £1 coupon to spend on fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables. Every time a customer hands over their vouchers at the checkout, they will automatically receive the money-off coupon to redeem off their next shop.
Marcus Rashford’s Child Poverty Task Force, of which Tesco is a member, is currently pressing the government to increase the value of the Healthy Start vouchers to £4.25 per week (from £3.10).
Healthy Start is a government scheme to improve the health of low-income pregnant women and families on benefits and tax credits. Under the scheme, eligible families are provided with vouchers every week to spend on milk, fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried, and tinned pulses, and infant formula milk. In addition to funding the £1 coupon, Tesco is donating an additional £4million of food to FareShare to support it through the current period of record demand. Combined with its regular food donations through its Community Food Connection scheme, Tesco has made food donations worth more than £60m in the last year. Earlier this year, the supermarket provided £15m of food to FareShare and the Trussell Trust to support those who needed help at the start of the pandemic.
Jason Tarry, Tesco UK & ROI CEO, said: “Right now, many families are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic and we want to help by providing nutritious food to those who need it. In addition to topping up the Healthy Start vouchers by £1 each week, we’re providing an extra £4m of food to FareShare in the run up to Christmas, on top of our regular monthly food donations, to support food banks and community groups with vital supplies at a time when so many people are relying on them.”
Marcus Rashford said: "We all have a role to play in the community and I'm thrilled that another one of the Taskforce members has proactively stepped up to support our most vulnerable in their time of need. Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers is a key ask of this Taskforce but in the true spirit of togetherness, and with true understanding of need, Tesco has not waited for action but, instead, has taken action. I'm extremely grateful as this move will make a big difference to the lives of nearly 500,000."
Lindsay Boswell, chief executive at FareShare, said: “Demand for food has more than doubled at FareShare as a result of the pandemic and 90% of the charities we serve expect demand to remain the same as crisis levels or increase through the winter. That’s why we are so grateful to Tesco for helping us to support families in need and the extensive support they are offering which will make a big difference to so many people’s lives during the tough winter months ahead.”
Henry Dimbleby, independent lead, National Food Strategy, said: “The problem of food poverty is real and serious, and the pandemic is only increasing that pressure. That’s why one of the recommendations of the National Food Strategy is for the government to increase the value of the Healthy Start Vouchers – a great way to help children get the fruit and vegetables they need to thrive. At such a critical time, it is wonderful news that Tesco is stepping in to help their customers directly.”
Tesco is a member of the Child Poverty Task Force, formed by Marcus Rashford, and continues to support his campaign for free school meals for every child that needs them, at any time.