Food bank volunteers refused sale due to ‘unfair’ limit on Asda Essentials range

Food bank volunteers refused sale due to ‘unfair’ limit on Asda Essentials range
Food bank volunteers refused sale due to ‘unfair’ limit on Asda Essentials range

Two volunteers from Hyndburn Food Pantry are ‘appalled’ after they said the manager at Accrington Asda denied their bulk buy purchase.

The pair visited the supermarket in their volunteer uniform on Tuesday, September 27, to stock up as the food bank sees an average of 160 customers a day.

One of the volunteers said they had six or 12 of each Essentials range item and when they got to the till, the cashier told them they would have to put the shopping through as four separate transactions due to the three-limit policy.

However, before this could happened the store manager stepped in and refused the purchase, despite the other staff member's willingness to put the transactions through.

Hyndburn Food Pantry

One of the volunteers said: “They do know us because we do loads of shopping with them. But then the manager came over and she said, ‘we can’t let you do that’.

“The people behind us in the queue heard what was going on and said, ‘we’ll get you some’ and even offered to pay but the manager wouldn’t even allow that.

“And she said 'you can’t go out and come back in and do another shop either'. So, she wouldn’t let us do it on our own, and she wouldn’t let strangers kindly do it either.

“I can understand if it was myself doing my own shopping because you’ve got to have rules and you’ve got to abide by them.

“But when you’re shopping for a food pantry and they know we need these items desperately, because we’ve got 4,500 people that use us, they’re making it really difficult for us.”

Asda states the limits on the Just Essentials range are in place to ensure as many customers as possible can take advantage of the range while demand is so high.

The food bank is run by volunteers who do twice a week food shops to support those in the local community ‘who are struggling to make ends meet.’

The volunteer added: “We have to try and find the cheapest options possible; we apply for grants when we can, but we purchase all of our food to support the wider community so it’s a shame that Asda can’t make an exception to help people who need it.”

Hyndburn Food Pantry online order

The woman alo shared that she recently placed a delivery order for 10 tins of Asda’s regular own brand custard which cost a total of £6.

However, a substitution made by Asda delivered 10 tins of the Essentials range custard which cost £4, instead.

She added: “So they can go over the three limit policy when they want and when it suits them, so why can’t they do that for a food pantry. It just doesn’t make sense.

"During the pandemic, we had agreements in place with Asda and Tesco that we could bulk buy even when there were restrictions in place because it was going out to people who needed help, so we know they can do it.

“We had really good arrangements in place during the pandemic so it should be no different now. You think they could give us a bit of support.”

A spokesperson for Asda said: “The substitutions are made automatically, and you can’t manually purchase more than three of any Just Essentials item through Asda.com.

“The temporary limits on our Just Essentials range are in place to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from the low-priced items that it incudes.

“We have dedicated avenues for food banks and charities to receive products from Asda and we would be more than happy to speak with the volunteers at Hyndburn Food Pantry to see if we can help.”