Charity serves up surplus food to help people across Gloucestershire
By Sarah Wood | 12th April 2023
Vulnerable people in Gloucestershire are receiving free nutritious food from local Tesco stores, thanks to the work of a local charity.
The Vulnerable Assistance Network provides free surplus food from the supermarket to people in communities throughout the county, with the food helping to ensure local families don't go hungry.
Volunteers at the charity receive in-date food from Tesco, then make it available to families free of charge, ensuring they have fresh and nutritious food.
The Gloucestershire charity receives most of its food in donations from the supermarket as part of Tesco's Community Food Connection surplus food scheme.
Vulnerable Assistance Network began life as the brainchild of sisters Debbie Deacon and Nicki Pearce, who were inspired to start the charity after seeing many people's livelihoods affected by the pandemic.
They have since set up a network of collectors, who pick up surplus food and distribute it around the communities they live in, especially reaching people who cannot get to a food bank.
The charity also supports nurseries with food for breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and a pantry to provide food for parents.
Debbie Deacon said: "We are very grateful to Tesco for this food. It helps us distribute to as many people as we possibly can. During the pandemic, so many people were affected, regardless of how well off they were. We don't discriminate. If people need food, we will provide it for them."
In addition to the team of volunteers, Debbie and Nicki are helping young people earn their Duke of Edinburgh's Silver award, by encouraging them to give a hand at the charity.
Nicki Pearce said: "Young people are the future of charitable organisations, so we're glad to be able to show young people the benefits of volunteering for good causes for themselves and for their communities."
The Community Food Connection scheme ensures surplus food from Tesco is given to charities and community groups, whose volunteer members distribute it to the public. Across the UK, it redistributes 2 million meals each month.
Claire De Silva, Tesco head of community, said: "Working with community groups, such as Vulnerable Assistance Network, to help them get the food they need is such an important service for us to be able to provide. We firmly believe no good food should go to waste, which is why we began our Community Food Connection scheme. It enables us to ensure our surplus food is put to good use in communities."
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