Retail Zoo initiative provides £15,000 worth of food for those in need

Retail Zoo, a group of 5 convenience stores, trading under the Centra and Mace brands in the Belfast area, has provided £15,000 worth of food through community donations by partnering with a local food bank.

“Like many independent retailers and indeed all retailers we have needed to adapt quickly in the current climate. And whilst our overall business has suffered with reduced footfall and almost 50% of our 109 staff are now furloughed we have some small good news stories,” said the business’s retail director Chris O’Reilly.

“We have partnered with a local food bank set up in the Good Shepard Church on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. It is a conglomerate of volunteers from local sporting clubs, Rosario FC, Bredagh GAC and Ormeau Road Boxing Club. A local MLA, Claire Hannah, made me aware of the Food Bank and their efforts.

“We have helped by providing food at cost price to the food bank to help turn their cash donations into food for those most in need. We committed to provide the goods at cost price to ensure that we could provide a much food as possible for those in need,” Mr O’Reilly explained.

“To date over £15,000 worth of food has been provided by turning the local community donations into food for those in need. These donations continue to flood in.

“Many local businesses have donated with many wishing to remain anonymous,” Mr O’Reilly added.

“Some of our suppliers came on board (Musgrave, Coca Cola, Dale Farm and Deli Lites) with generous donations and we too contributed – the first round of donations saw over £5,000 of food donated. We then as a business donated a further £2,000 in food at the beginning of May.

“Well over 1000 food parcels have been delivered by the food bank to those who have most needed it and the Food Bank is also now suppling a local women’s refuge.

“The volunteers at the food bank have helped us complete hundreds of home deliveries for those self isolating. We used our Facebook page in Mace Ormeau to set up a home delivery for the most vulnerable or for those self isolating and the volunteers help us deliver on a daily basis.

Mr O’Reilly added that being apart of the initiative had been a rewarding experience.

“In these strange and uncertain times it has been amazing to be part of such a worthwhile cause, the volunteers at the Food Bank have been amazing and generosity of the local community  and our suppliers has been exceptional.

“I am sure there are many similar efforts across the country but we are very proud to highlight the excellent work of our local community in partnership with our business.”

Shoppers wishing to buy an extra item or two for donation for the food bank, can find donation points at Mace Ormeau and Centra Ormeau.

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