A PORTLAND supermarket is donating unsold food to help needy charities throughout the borough.

Tesco, in Easton, is one of the first in the county to initiate the chains’ Community Food Connection Service enabling stores to donate surplus products to a different charity at the end of each day.

The scheme, which began last week, will distribute produce to seven different Weymouth and Portland charities on a weekly rota.

Currently, Portland Food Bank, IPACA Breakfast Club, Pottery Lane, Melcombe House, Legh House and Soul Food are receiving donations.

Debbie Lindoe, Tesco community champion for Portland, said: “At around 7pm the store manager will go through all the waste produce we have, box it up, and then text one of the charities to come and collect it.

“It is something we’re really proud of as a company, I think most major supermarkets are recognising that it is a persistent problem how much food we throw away. It’s all absolutely fine, everything just has such a short life span now, and we’re not allowed to sell it.”

Donated food ranges from fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables as well as chilled products like meat, dairy, and ready meals.

Toiletries and beauty products may also be included.

Angie Barnes, volunteer outreach worker for homeless support charity Soul Food, said: "I have been battling for six or seven years to get the government to relax the rules and allow supermarkets to use their waste food. I'm so glad it's changed, in the past supermarkets used to have to put coloured bleach over food left outside so no one could eat it."

"So many people are going to benefit from this and it has a knock on effect. Whilst it will never stop food banks, it will release some of the pressure on us. We have no funding at all so if we don’t get enough food donations, our guys are going to starve."

The initiative is set to be rolled out across other Tesco branches in the area including the Tesco Metro, in St Thomas Street, and the Tesco Express in Dorchester Road.

Claire Wright, manager at Legh House residential care home, in Wyke Regis, said: “We went and collected our first donation last Friday and picked up six crates in total. We had a large quantity of food, loads of bread, cakes, fruit and vegetables. It all gets used in the kitchen to prepare dinner for residents at the home.

"The residents all really enjoyed it as it was a new experience for them to try food they had never eaten before such as Mediterranean bread."

As previously reported in the ‘Echo’, the programme is the result of a three-way partnership between Tesco, FoodShare and FoodCloud, non-profit organisations that connect growers and suppliers with local charities.

Rachel Finn Head of Community Food Programmes at Tesco said: “No food that can be eaten should go to waste. We are looking forward to forging strong links with local charities and community groups in Dorset, and to use this initiative to support their efforts to help vulnerable people.”

Any charity or project is welcome to apply for the scheme online at www.fareshare.org.uk/fareshare-foodcloud.