Asda has put a stop to its food bank, green token and other charity schemes in a seemingly sudden stroke.
Charity representatives across Britain were called in to speak to the chain’s representatives, and were each told that aid from Asda would be ceased.
“I was called to a meeting at the local Asda last Tuesday,” said Amanda Bloomfield, a representative of the Gatehouse Food Bank in Bury St Edmunds. “I met the community representative and some management staff and was basically told that they had been to an Asda conference, and with immediate effect unmanned collections were no longer allowed.
The food that had been donated up to that point was to be removed immediately, and there were to be no more collections. There was no reason given.”
Similar incidents have recently occurred across Britain. A number of charities relied on Asda donations for a sizable portion of their funding and resources.
“The management at Asda said that there would now be a possibility of doing a good collection a couple of times a year in their main reception area,” Bloomfield continued. “That would mean we would have to find volunteers to man the operation, whereas at the moment, volunteers only need to collect the food once a week.”
The move was investigated by The Guardian after customers reported on social media that charity facilities had disappeared from stores without warning. Speaking to The Guardian, an Asda spokesperson said the chain would allow charities to remain in 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.”
This is questionable, particularly given the convenience of the current system, which allowed customers to simply use food bank points to donate items bought in stores and brought from home. It also puts a greater amount of pressure on the charities themselves to provide this manpower.
The company spokesperson denied that this move was linked to recent attempts to cut-costs across the board.
“We’re investing an additional £2m, so it’s definitely not to do with cost cutting.”