A RECORD number of food donations has helped The Midcounties Co-operative collect enough items to support 300 families living in poverty in Oxfordshire in the last year.

Shoppers, members and colleagues in the county donated more than 12,000 food items, an increase of over 60 per cent on donations made in the region last year.

The collections at stores in the county have contributed towards the Co-op donating a milestone 100,000 items to food banks across the country over the past year, 30 per cent more than the previous year.

Through these efforts, The Midcounties Co-operative has been able to help about 2,500 families living in poverty in the UK.

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As well as joining forces with The Trussell Trust, to support its network of food banks in the area, Midcounties also reached out to a number of other local charities to provide food donations, including Cowley Road-based mental health charity Restore’s Beehive Recovery Group.

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Samantha Stapley, director of operations at The Trussell Trust, said: “We’re very grateful for the support The Midcounties Co-operative has given to food banks in Oxfordshire.

“It’s only with the generous support of people and businesses in local communities that we’re able to work with our network to ensure emergency food and help are available, while at the same time challenging why people are being thrown into crisis in the first place.”

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The Midcounties Food store in Botley provided fresh ingredients for the Beehive group’s cookery classes, which help members struggling with mental ill health to learn new skills, boost their confidence and enjoy a sociable mealtime their fellow members.

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Tom Hayes, head of external relations at Restore, who is also a Labour city councillor, said: “Our members take a great sense of accomplishment from the cookery classes and get an opportunity to enjoy socialising with others.

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“We know that mental health is linked to physical health, so the fresh, healthy ingredients we receive from Midcounties are incredibly important for helping our members on the road to recovery.”

Peter Lockey, regional communities ambassador for Central Oxford at The Midcounties Co-operative, said: “The efforts of our colleagues and shoppers in Oxfordshire have helped us to make a huge difference to local food banks and groups like Restore over the past year.

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“We will continue to work with charities and food banks in the local community and, with the help of our members and customers, will strive to provide even more food donations in 2019.”

Last year The Trussell Trust said its 420 foodbanks provided more than 204,000 three-day emergency supplies the previous summer, 74,000 of which went to children.

Visit trusselltrust.org