VOLUNTEERS in Southampton have saved more than 25 thousand meals from going to waste through a supermarket partnership.

In August last year Tesco became the first supermarket to partner with food sharing app OLIO, which provides unsold surplus food fit for consumption to people in the community.

In the first full year of the partnership, OLIO’s Southampton network of Food Waste Heroes saved food that people could then put to good use for themselves, their families and others in their communities.

The partnership builds on Tesco’s existing food surplus donations programme, including its Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare.

FareShare supports frontline charities and community groups working with children – from summer holiday clubs and breakfast clubs to community kitchens, and groups which supply food parcels to those facing food insecurity.

OLIO Food Waste Heroes collect food when charities supported by FareShare are unable to do so, and they can then take it back to their homes.

These items are then uploaded onto the OLIO app, ready to be redistributed free to those living nearby and to community groups.

OLIO, which has been running since 2016, has provided more than 120 million meals to charities and community groups across the UK, with more than 5 million coming from Tesco.

Claire De Silva, Tesco Head of Communities, said: “Tesco is committed to tackling food waste and we were confident our partnership with OLIO would help with that, but its impact has exceeded all our expectations.

“For our partnership to have diverted more than 5 million surplus meals from going to waste nationally shows the strength of the partnership between our store colleagues and OLIO’s Food Waste Heroes.”

Saasha Celestial-One, co-founder of OLIO, said: “We’re incredibly proud to have delivered so many meals that would have otherwise been wasted to communities across the UK.

“But our work is far from done. We hope this partnership encourages other businesses to follow suit and consider how they can take a more proactive approach to minimising waste and supporting communities."