THE Southern Co-op has announced a new programme that will allow both shoppers and good causes to benefit from discounted food and surplus products.

The co-operative is currently rolling out the programme to all of its stores nationwide, including 79 stores in Hampshire.

The programme has two stages, the first of which, Too Good to Go Magic Bags, launched in July.

Basingstoke Gazette: Too Good to Go is the world's largest surplus food app that lets users rescue surprise ‘Magic Bags' of delicious, unsold food from shops and restaurants so it doesn't go to waste.

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Via the free-to-download app, customers can buy surplus food and drink products from local Southern Co-op sites which are near to their expiry date.

Originally trialled at 12 stores since January and a further 26 from April, so far more than 7,000 Magic Bags have been saved by customers.

The second stage of the programme will see the rollout of other initiatives designed to save food that has gone past its best before date.

This will be done by either reducing it to 20p or donating it to local good causes through the app Neighbourly.

Basingstoke Gazette: At the end of each day, the store will notify a local connected good cause through Neighbourly about which food and drink items are available to collect.

If the charity is unable to pick up, then it is offered to a second linked local cause.

This has already been tested at 27 stores in Bristol and Bournemouth since March and has resulted in a total of four tonnes of food being donated to good causes.

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Gemma Lacey, Southern Co-op's director for Sustainability and Communications, said: “All of these programmes involve a different method of improving food sustainability.

“By combining them together and making sure they are right for each store, we hope we can prevent food from going off to be recycled and get more into the hands of customers and good causes.

“It will benefit our customers as snapping up a Magic Bag could help those who are finding budgets tight as well as dozens of charities who can make use of goods past their best before date - which is a date that relates to quality, not the safety of the product.”

The Kings Road and Wallingford Road Co-ops will both participate in the programme.

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