The borough’s biggest food bank has told of its shock after changes to a supermarket’s collection scheme.
Asda hypermarket in Soho Street removed a large steel basket where shoppers could leave much-needed tins and packets of dried groceries after a review of community charity involvement.
The generosity of Asda shoppers made it a “key” Wigan donation point and helped town centre-based The Brick distribute more than 150 food parcels a week to needy families and individuals.
In future the American-owned shopping giant will only allow collections to take place if continuously staffed by the charity.
But The Brick was grateful that Tesco Extra in Central Park Way was continuing - and expanding - its un-staffed donation service, along with Sainsbury’s of Marus Bridge.
Dan Pollard, from The Brick, said: “Asda Wigan removed the point over the Christmas period, which our shopper supporters thought was a very surprising thing to do at that time of the year, but then returned it in the New Year after it was raised with them.
“Now it has gone permanently, but this isn’t a decision from Wigan management, who have been very helpful, but one taken nationally.
“It was massively one of the best supported, no question, and there is a lot of genuine disappointment about what has happened.
“We are a volunteer organisation and we rely on facilities like this but I will be having a meeting with Asda because we certainly hope to be able to find volunteers who can staff a collection point once or twice a month, or so. But there is no question this is going to take a lot of organising.
An Asda spokesman confirmed it had reviewed all of its in-store work with charities with a view to “increasing” the company’s local involvement.
And it had now made a decision nationally to remove such collection points for any charity or good cause that is not supported by a member of the charity’s own staff being on hand to “answer any questions” from customers.