ASDA has removed permanent collection points for food banks from stores across the UK, in a move that has caused alarm among charities and the supermarket chain’s customers.
Following reports on social media that collection trolleys and boxes had disappeared from stores across Scotland, as well as in Hampshire, Lancashire, Norwich and Newcastle, the Guardian established that Asda, which is owned by the US retail giant Walmart, has removed donation points from all of its UK stores.
Food bank points offer shoppers the chance to donate items they have bought in stores, as well as food brought from home; in some cases Asda’s contributions accounted for 15%-25% of a single charity’s donations.
Several charities told the Guardian they had been affected by Asda’s new policy, which was instituted in January, apparently unannounced.
YT has contacted Thurrock Foodbank but they have not, as yet, replied.
Our sister paper spoke to Harlow Foodbank manager, Gary Knott.
Mr Knott said: "We want to stress that although it is disappointing, we want to praise the work of the the community co-ordinators at Asda in the Water Gardens for all the work they do in Harlow.
"There will continue to be drop off points in Tescos at Church Langley and Edinburgh way."
An Asda spokesperson confirmed the national change in policy, and told the Guardian that charities were still welcome in their stores, but “we just ask that volunteers are on hand to talk to customers and explain where their donations are going. We know this personal interaction helps to increase the amount of donations received”.
As part of Asda’s review of charity collections, they said an additional Â£2m would be “invested into local good causes” via the charitable Asda Foundation. Charities, said the spokesperson, could “apply for funding through the Asda Foundation by contacting their local community champion”.
Asda has also ended its green token scheme, under which the company donated to local charities according to how many shoppers placed plastic coins in collection boxes. In-store signs have claimed that “demand has dropped”. A company spokesperson said the green token scheme was being “changed and updated”, and that a replacement would be announced shortly.
Asda says the decision to change its arrangements for charities is based on a review of its community programme. A spokesperson told the Guardian the move was aimed at making Asda’s practices “fair and consistent for all the charities we support”.
The move comes as Asda deepens an ongoing cost-cutting drive in response to pressure from rival discount chains Aldi and Lidl. The company’s spokesperson denied the two were linked: “We’re investing an additional Â£2m, so it’s definitely not to do with cost-cutting,” she said. Asda’s latest results are due to be announced on Thursday.