COMMUNITY projects across Southampton, Eastleigh and Fareham have benefitted from almost 27 tonnes of free food.

The surplus food which adds up to around 64,951 meals was donated by individual Lidl stores as part of the supermarket chain’s Feed It Back programme.

Projects which have benefited include Eastleigh Young Carers, Park Life Community Café, Saints4Sport and Southampton City Mission (SCM) which provides free food and clothing for thousands of struggling families.

Lidl’s scheme has been in place since July last year and has supported 39 community projects across Hampshire and Sussex.

It has been run in partnership with Neighbourly, a giving platform that connects Lidl stores with charities, food banks, community cafes and soup kitchens, enabling them to collect surplus food from the supermarket, and put it to good use.

Since the start of the initiative in January 2017, Lidl stores across the country have helped to provide over 3.9 million meals for those in need through organisations such as the Southampton City Mission, which provides local people with access to food and clothes banks.

David Osborne from the Southampton City Mission said: “We are hugely indebted to Neighbourly and to Lidl. The scheme means we are able to collect fresh produce and baked goods each day, which is given out to local families in need as part of their food parcels. Fresh produce greatly enhances the nutritional content of our emergency food parcels, as well as providing clients with great choice and flexibility in creating their own meals.”

Lidl’s Feed It Back initiative is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to reduce food waste from stores by 25% per store by 2020.

CSR Manager at Lidl GB, Mark Newbold, said: “We’re seeing just how impactful our network is in connecting local communities with our stores and building strong relationships. Through this network, it’s great to know that we’re making the most of our surplus food by helping organisations such as the Southampton City Mission. We are extremely proud of our store teams’ efforts to date throughout the South Coast and look forward to continuing to build these partnerships across the country.”