A FREE food scheme that allows charities and community groups to collect surplus food from their local Tesco store is extending across Bournemouth.

Charities and community groups across the town are being urged to sign up to the initiative which sees fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables, bakery products and chilled food like meat, cheese and ready meals given to those in need.

Since launching in February 2016, Community Food Connection has helped provide 11 million meals to over 5,800 charities and community groups, whose service users might otherwise go hungry.

In Bournemouth, 15,550 meals have been donated and have already benefited local charities.

Tesco is now set to extend the scheme to its convenience stores across Bournemouth, which will significantly extend the number of charities reached and the number of meals given to people in need.

Groups that benefit include homeless shelters, substance abuse rehabilitation services, after-school clubs, foodbanks and domestic violence refuges.

Tesco’s Community Food Connection programme, with FareShare, recruits and supports charities and community groups, linking them to Tesco stores via an app that allows store teams to alert them to surplus unsold food items available at the end of each day.

Andy Cruttenden, Store Director for Bournemouth, from Tesco said: “At Tesco we have no time for waste. We’re so proud to already support local charities and community groups through Community Food Connection from our larger stores in Bournemouth and to be able to extend that support to our convenience stores is fantastic.

“We are looking forward to forging more strong links with local charities and community groups in Bournemouth, and supporting their efforts to help more vulnerable people in our community.”

If you are a charity or community group that could benefit from the support of Community Food Connection, visit fareshare.org.uk/fareshare-foodcloud to register.