Customers and members of Central England Co-operative have donated more than 60,000 items to the Society’s Christmas food bank appeal.

The co-operative’s five-week campaign saw staff at over 180 food stores use their connections with local food bank providers to encourage people to drop off one or more items.

Over 11,000 items a week were donated, totalling more than 60,000 in just a matter of weeks.

As a result, over 5,500 food parcels – made up of around 11 items – can now be handed out, providing over 16,000 meals to people in need.

Central England Co-operative chief executive Martyn Cheatle said: “Everyone involved with the Society has been delighted with the amazing response by customers and members to our Christmas food bank Appeal.

“As a co-operative, we are proud to be able to be able to support the great work of local foodbanks across our trading area during the festive season and throughout the year.

“Following the success of the Christmas food bank Appeal, we want to appeal to our customers and members to continue to support our foodbanks throughout 2018 to help provide meals for people in need across the area all year round.”

The Christmas food bank appeal was launched on the back of year-round relationships currently in place with local foodbank providers and hundreds of Central England Co-op stores.

During Christmas 2013, Central England Co-operative Society trialled an in-store food bank collection and such was its success that the Society now has permanent food bank collection points in hundreds of its stores.

The store food banks have resulted in thousands of people every month from Birmingham to Norfolk being given enough food to cook meals.