Supermarket chain Morrisons is to give away £10m worth of goods to foodbanks across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.
David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said its bakery, egg and fruit & vegetable departments will run for an extra hour every day to make, prepare and pack food required to restock the services.
It will also be sending deliveries of ambient food – such as canned goods and pasta – to local foodbanks via “community champions”.
The move comes after foodbanks across the UK were forced to close or reduce hours after the virus led to a decline in volunteers and a shortage in donations.
Meanwhile Potts also praised the response of the public to social distancing measures introduced at supermarkets and added staff were doing all they could to stay safe and minimise the risk of exposure in-store.
Potts said: “As a food maker and shopkeeper we are uniquely placed to help.
“We know foodbanks are finding life very difficult and running our manufacturing sites for an extra hour each day to help restock them is the right decision at this time.
“The core purpose of all 96,537 colleagues at Morrisons is to play our full part in feeding the nation.”
Potts said the plan is for food to be distributed to foodbanks by July.
The retailer, which typically serves more than 12 million customers every week, said it also wanted to encourage customers to make donations by lifting purchase limits to four items and removing limits on some items altogether.
The supermarket has already revamped its in store cafes as donation hubs.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning Potts said the store is providing the food so that local community champions can help restock the nation’s foodbanks.
“For many people who use the foodbanks that’s their only store – so it is a very important part of society and we will play our part so that no body is left behind,” he added.
Asked about the public response to in-store changes and abusive behaviour from customers, Potts said: “To be honest the public have been brilliant and so have our own people and of course in these times of social distancing this is a real challenge.
“We call for patience from the public and as we say they have been top class.”
On safety measures in-store, he added: “Our staff – along with ourselves – follow the Public Health England advice. We listen quite carefully to the authorities and we provide the opportunity to be protected at the tills.
“We’ve closed down many counters, we’ve become much more of a self service business; (we are) washing hands and taking all of the social distancing measures.”
Other big chains have also donated large sums to foodbanks and community charities.
Last week the the Co-op said it would donate £1.5m worth of food to the UK’s largest food redistribution charity FareShare, to help boost stocks and support local communities struggling because of the coronavirus outbreak.
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