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Food scheme helps forge connections at Christmas

17 December 2018

Northern Ireland’s leading homeless charity will help sustain some of the country’s most needy with food donations from Tesco this Christmas.

The Simon Community will support its service users at The Foyer in Belfast to prepare and share meals together over the festive season using surplus food donations from the supermarket’s Community Food Connection scheme.

The donations will help the city service, which provides accommodation for 16-25-year-olds, offer cookery lessons and food security at what can often be a difficult time of year for its residents.

 Shauna Toal, Youth Participation Worker at the Simon Community said: “As a lot of our clients do not return home, or have a home to return to, for Christmas, it can be a very lonely period for them, and the opportunity to come together and prepare a Christmas meal provides them with a sense of belonging.

“Our clients also struggle to budget for fresh food which they can cook for themselves and these food donations offer an added bit of security so they know where their next meal is coming from.

“Across Northern Ireland 35 per cent of our clients are under the age of 25, so our three specialist projects for young people are vitally important lifelines, and donations like these really help make a difference.”

The Simon Community has 22 services across the country and supports up to 3,000 people every year. Each night, it provides 369 warm beds throughout Northern Ireland.

 Last year, a third of the young people supported by the charity successfully moved on to permanent accommodation. 

“Community Food Connection is making a real difference to groups like the The Simon Community, but we know there are more groups that could receive food from the scheme, especially over the festive period” said Tesco’s head of communications for Northern Ireland, Tony McElroy.

“This is the biggest supermarket food redistribution scheme in the UK and I’d encourage any group looking to use food in their work to discover how they could benefit.” 

Tesco Community Food Connection provides around 350,000 meals worth of surplus food to charities and community groups each week. 

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