HUNDREDS of tonnes of unwanted food from supermarkets in Southampton will be used to tackle poverty in the city.

The city council and a local charity have teamed up to launch the Co-ordinated Re-Use Makes Business Sense (CRUMBS) project.

They say the scheme, which has been backed by city MP Alan Whitehead, will also boost small businesses in the city and create 50 jobs and volunteering posts.

As part of the CRUMBS project, which was formally launched yesterday, in-date food that would otherwise be thrown away by supermarkets will be redistributed to the city’s poorest residents.

It will also provide jobs and training opportunities for young people at local businesses and community organisations.

The city council and charity Southampton City and Region Action to Combat Hardship (SCRATCH) won £335,000 funding through the South England European Regional Development Fund to kickstart the scheme.

Other charities, such as the Society of St James, Two Saints and Basics Bank will also be involved, as will supermarkets Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s Marks & Spencer and food firms Kellogg’s, Weetabix, Nestle and Brake Brothers.

It will create a recover-recycle-reuse network which will divert food and business waste from landfill, therefore reducing carbon emissions.

Fifty paid posts and voluntary positions will be created, while unwanted office furniture and equipment will be distributed to local charities and small and medium-sized businesses.

City leisure and economic development chief Matt Tucker said: “CRUMBS is a hugely valuable project for Southampton, as it addresses a number of important issues at the same time as providing jobs and training opportunities for residents.”

A new website offering advice and information to businesses and charities will also be set up.

“It’s vital that we do all we can to tackle the growing issue of food poverty, so I’m particularly pleased that we’ve been able to get retailers and supermarkets on board,” he added.

“The fact that the project contributes to our drive to reduce carbon emissions while improving the lives of residents is something to be welcomed.”

Test Labour MP Alan Whitehead said: “A number of people have been working hard to bring [food supply organisation] Fareshare to Southampton, and I am proud to have played my part in getting this idea moving.

“This project has come a long way from a quick chat at an exhibition to the potential massive success story for the city that it now is.”