The Co-operative Group has announced it will provide 100,000 meals to vulnerable people in the run-up to Christmas, through its partnership with food redistribution charity Fareshare UK.

Since 2013, the group has supplied almost 1,300 tonnes of food, enough to provide over 3,085,000 meals to those in need, and redistributed surplus stock through its nationwide network of nine depots.

Fareshare UK will allocate the food donations to local charities and community groups, who create balanced and nutritious meals for lots of people over the festive period. Meat, fruit, vegetables, ready meals and chilled items will all be included in the partnership.

The volume of Co-op surplus food redistributed to vulnerable people this year is expected to reach 1.1 million meals. More than 1,135 charities and community groups have received food through the Co-operative FareShare partnership in 2017, including youth centres, hostels and community cafes, food banks, and family centres.

Co-op’s head of food policy Cathryn Higgs said: “We’re very proud of our partnership with FareShare which has enabled us to provide over three million meals to vulnerable people in just four years. Our long-term ambition is that no food fit for consumption should go to waste and that’s why we are why we are working hard to provide an extra 100,000 meals in the run up to Christmas – a time of year that is so strongly associated with the enjoyment of food. Whilst so many people in the UK still aren’t able to get access to a nutritious cooked-meal we must do whatever is necessary to support the work of FareShare and put an end to unnecessary food waste.”

Fairshare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: “FareShare is undergoing a period of rapid growth at present, coupled with unprecedented demand for food from the voluntary sector. The food we receive from the Co-op has been critical to our ability to supply thousands more charities on the front line helping those in need. We congratulate the Co-op for providing over three million meals so far and give thanks to all those involved in ensuring this valuable food continues to reach us week in week out.”