COLES has announced it will donate extra food and groceries to the retail value of $1 million a week "to help Australians who are facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus".
The food donations will be directed to food relief organisations, Foodbank and SecondBite, which will in turn distribute the food to up to 3800 community food programs across Australia.
Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said the decision to increase Coles’ food donations was in response to increasing demand for food relief from vulnerable Australians.
"For many years, we have donated surplus edible food from our supermarkets and distribution centres but sadly we are hearing that an increasing number of people in our community are facing particularly tough times as a flow-on effect of the Coronavirus,” Mr Cain said.
“We hope that by donating an additional $1 million in food each week to SecondBite and Foodbank, we can help get food and essentials to people who are especially vulnerable at this unprecedented time.
“It goes to the heart of our strategy which is to feed all Australians and help them lead healthier, happier lives.”
The announcement comes just days after Coles introduced a dedicated Community Hour at its supermarkets to improve access to essential groceries for the elderly and disadvantaged during the period of unprecedented demand.
Community Hour is held on weekdays from 7am to 8am in all Coles supermarkets, with access exclusively for customers who hold a government-issued Pensioner Concession Card, Seniors Health Card, Companion Card, Seniors Card, Disability Card or Health Care Card.
SecondBite CEO Jim Mullan welcomed the additional food donations.
“A key issue for us at the moment is keeping up with the growing demand," Mr Mullan said. "Coles currently donates surplus food from around 780 supermarkets and these additional donations from its distribution centres will help us to reach an increasing number of people in need."
Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey said the combination of drought, bushfires and coronavirus had placed unprecedented pressure on the charity’s food supplies.
“We are already assisting 815,000 people a month, but the need for food relief is skyrocketing at a time when donations of essential food and groceries are reducing," Ms Casey said.
"The additional donations from Coles will help ensure Foodbank can bolster its supplies to ensure vulnerable Australians can continue to be assisted."