Heart of England Co-op manager takes the plunge for food charity

Steve Browne braved the North Sea on New Year’s Day in aid of FareShare Midlands

Heart of England Co-op has kicked off the year with a flurry of fundraising efforts for food poverty charity FareShare Midlands. 

This includes 3,220 raised by Steve Browne, general manager of the society’s food division, with a sponsored New Year’s Day dip in the North Sea near his hometown of Blyth, Northumberland. 

FareShare is a charity that works to combat hunger and waste by redistributing food among some of the most vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, the homeless and people affected by food poverty as a result of Covid 19.

Mr Browne, who oversees a network of 35 food stores across Coventry, Warwickshire, south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, said: “FareShare is a cause close to my heart. Not only does it play a significant part in the ongoing fight against hunger but its work is vital in helping to protect the environment.

“With more food being shared among those most in need and less food waste being sent to landfill to rot, there are fewer harmful gases being released into our atmosphere. It really is an excellent cause which brings multiple benefits.”

The society raised a further £1,638 for FareShare through its partnership with Too Good To Go, an app which sells ‘Magic Bags’ of items approaching their best before dates to customers at reduced prices. 

During December Heart of England sold 1,638 Magic Bags, matching the sale of every bag with a £1 donation to FareShare.

Simone Connolly, director of FareShare Midlands said: “We are so grateful to Steve for his personal feat, and to the Heart of England Co-op for their continuing support. The £5,000 raised will result in a further 20,000 meals for local families struggling in the winter.

“We also thank Too Good To Go and are delighted to be working with another organisation making a real difference in the fight against food waste.”

The society also hailed the successful first full year of another scheme to tackle food waste – Gander, which uses real-time tech to highlight yellow-sticker, reduced-to-clear food items on stores shelves nearest customers’ home, via a free mobile app.

Heart of England says the app has a potential reach of thousands in local communities, allowing customers to pop in and pick up a bargain, in turn cutting the amount of food being thrown away from the stores.

Since its launch in 2020, Gander has since seen a 22% reduction in reduced items wasted across the network. The best performer among the retailer’s network of 35 stores was Balsall Common.

Store manager Dan Warburton said: “Gander has proven extremely popular among our customers.

“We too have been delighted with its success. Not only does it bring savvy shoppers into our store every day as they snap up cut-price bargains from our shelves, but it is helping us to reduce the amount of food wasted, which as we know is an issue in the UK – not just socially and economically, but environmentally.”

Gander is available for download via the Apple and Android app stores.

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