The Scottish Grocers’ Federation has announced the launch of a pilot project to enable SGF members and their customers to support the work of local food banks.
SGF Food Aid involves participating Nisa stores in Bellshill and Aberdeen, with Nisa in Dundee expected to join within a few weeks. Customers will be encouraged to place donations in collection bins located in-store. Each store has the support of the local food bank infrastructure in their area which will ensure the effective collection and distribution of donated goods.
The pilot was launched at an event at Hampden Park, Scotland’s National Stadium, that involved over 600 school pupils from across Glasgow taking part in a sponsored ‘conga dance’ around the stadium to raise funds for anti-poverty initiatives in schools. The event was supported by key SGF corporate members AG Barr, Muller-Wiseman Dairies, KP Snacks and Weetabix.
Some of the students snaking their way round a wet and windy Hampden had made the short journey from Mount Florida Primary School. Headteacher Carole Neil said: “We are always in need of some money so this has come at the right time for us. The money will go towards school funds to pay for things like Christmas parties, Christmas gifts and reading books. We’re also planning on doing up the playground.”
SGF President and participating retailer Abdul Majid wants to spread the project across retailers nationwide. “SGF has over 3,000 stores in membership so if this project proves to be a success over the coming months there is massive potential to roll it out across Scotland in 2016. Convenience stores are at the heart of communities and this project reinforces the vital role we can play in helping people in need. The more retailers that join the better it will be. I’m pleased to be involved and happy that the SGF have taken it on.”
Pete Cheema, SGF Chief Executive, thought it was a “phenomenal” achievement by the children. “One of the schools has raised £2500 and that money gets reinvested into their own school. It looks as though it is going to be a yearly event and hopefully next year we will raise more money and get more people involved.”
Commenting on the in-store donation bins, Nisa retailer Graeme Knowles from Aberdeen said that he liked their unobtrusiveness. “They allow customers to donate as they please. It’s very much the community supporting the community in a very basic form. And with that there is huge potential for this to become a core fixture in every store.”
Figures from leading charity the Trussell Trust show that, in 2014/15, 117,689 people, including 36,114 children, picked up a three-day supply of groceries from their Scottish foodbanks. This was up from 14,318 people two years earlier.