Morrisons has been praised for a new initiative that makes it easier for customers to make food bank donations alongside their usual grocery shopping.
The supermarket has announced customers can now purchase a 'pick-up pack' filled with items for food banks after the scheme was rolled out nationally.
Priced between £1 and £5, the pre-packed bags are filled with items requested by local food banks and schools, including nutritionally balanced food and sanitary products.
It comes as the debate continues around the best way to tackle food poverty amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with footballer Marcus Rashford joining forces with supermarkets and food delivery companies to ensure children don't go hungry over the school holidays.
Meanwhile, the number of families with children receiving emergency food parcels in the UK has almost doubled in a year, food banks report.
Morrisons are offering 'pick-up bags' (pictured) for customers who want pre-packed items to donate to food banks
Morrisons said it launched the bags as a way to ensure food banks, which are often overwhelmed with products such as pasta and bread, receive the items they actually need.
It also means shoppers don’t need to spend time browsing the shelves working out what to buy to donate.
Sharing the news on Twitter, the supermarket wrote: 'We're making it easy for you to support too with family specific pick- up packs at the front of store, offering a nutritionally balanced mix of products which have been requested by local food banks and schools.'
Pick Up Packs, often found at the entrance to the supermarket, can be picked up by customers arriving to do their own shopping and are paid for at the till.
The packs are then placed in specially-designated trolleys and taking to the local food bank. Each Morrisons branch works with schools and food banks in its local area to ensure the products and items are targeted to what is most in demand.
The idea was initially suggested by Morrisons employee Michelle Leary who lives in Basingstoke. It has now been rolled out nationally after a local trial.
Morrisons revealed the initiative is in response to local food banks receiving an overwhelming amount of the same products. Pictured: An employee at Morrisons in Saint Ives
A stream of impressed shoppers praised Morrisons and are urging other supermarkets to follow suit.
'This is a great idea and I'll definitely do this next time I'm in Morrisons. When I've previously been in, I saw the bags in the food bank bit after paying but couldn't work out how to add one. Maybe a poster at entrances advertising it would help (sorry f I miss it though),' wrote one.
Another said: 'I really love this idea! It's much easier to remember to pop it in my trolley or basket, and just a small addition to my own shopping. Thank you Morrisons #FoodHeroes #FoodBank #FoodDonation'.
A third added: 'What a great idea to provide balanced food enabling each of us to help out rather than just businesses. More stores need to consider'.
A stream of impressed customers took to Twitter revealing that they will be purchasing a 'pick-up bag' with their groceries
The charitable supermarket has also been praised for announcing that they will be donating 15,000 lunchboxes daily to schools and food banks, amid ongoing pressure for the government to provide children with free school meals during the half-term break
Earlier this week, a motion to offer food aid to vulnerable families over school holidays until Easter 2021 was defeated in the House of Commons by 322 votes to 261.
The defeat sparked fierce backlash with Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, 22, who championed the campaign, calling on people to 'unite' to protect the most vulnerable children.
It was met with an outpouring of support, with supermarkets, businesses, cafes, pubs and restaurants coming forward to offer half-term food.
Families who can't feed their children are turning to food banks in increasing numbers, with the Trussell Trust reporting its busiest month ever in April this year at the height of lockdown.
The charity's food banks saw an 89% increase in emergency food parcels delivered across the UK compared with the same month in 2019.
An average of 700 parcels were handed out at each of their food banks in April 2020, compared with 369 in April 2019, the Trussell Trust said.
The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), which represents over 346 independent food banks, has also reported a 175% increase in need.