A WIRRAL charity was able to hand out thousands of meals to those in need over Christmas after generous Tesco customers donated more than 8.6 tonnes of food.

The gift to Wirral Foodbank equates to 24,965 meals. It was divided into emergency food parcels and handed to people referred because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their families.

The foodbank scheme ran in Tesco stores until December 2. Supermarket shoppers were asked to donate long-life items to help people in need as part of their usual shop with Tesco topping up the value of the customer donations by 20%.

Richard Roberts, foodbank manager said: "The generosity of the people of Wirral and the tremendous support from Tesco employees was overwhelming.

"Thank you so much to everyone who donated during the Food Collection – we rely on the generous support of the people of Wirral to make sure there is enough emergency food for people referred to us so we're very grateful for the way the community pulled together in the lead up to this Christmas.

"Because of your support, in the last few weeks the foodbank has been able to help over 1,000 local people in Wirral – thank you." 

The foodbank is part of The Trussell Trust foodbank network.

Samantha Stapley, head of operations at The Trussell Trust, said: "Our foodbank network has spent the last month making sure that people referred to them with no money for food don't go hungry this Christmas.

"This work has been made possible thanks to the incredible generosity of Tesco customers, store colleagues and volunteers during the Food Collection.

"Thank you for your support - your generosity has stopped hunger this Christmas."

Tesco's head of community, Alec Brown, said: "We know that this annual collection makes a real difference in Wirral and we would like to thank everyone who has donated, volunteered or helped with the Food Collection in store.

"Food Collection is just one of the ways that Tesco has been supporting the two food charities.

"A donation to the charities has also been made for every fresh turkey sold in Tesco stores and for every pack of Tesco Finest Candy Cane flavoured crisps sold over the festive period.

"The supermarket’s clothing range F&F has also been selling festive-themed 'hats with a heart' with a donation of £1 from each hat split between FareShare and The Trussell Trust.

"More than 164,000 of the hats have been sold".