HUNDREDS of tonnes of surplus food, normally destined for landfill, will be re-distributed to those most in need over the next year by Ireland's first mobile food bank.
A refrigerated van travels to the stores at 7.30am every day to collect the surplus food, which is kept in a freezer at the back of every store.
The food collected is then distributed to charities based in each of these localities, who will pass it on to those in need.
The remainder of the food goes to the three Crosscare Community Cafes and Meals on Wheels service, which cater for over 600 people daily.
"The service has been running for six weeks so far, and it is working exactly as we hoped it would," said Michael McDonagh, senior manager at Crosscare Food Services.
"We could break our target of 300 tonnes this year, as more and more retailers have come on board," he said.
The refrigerated van and motor insurance was provided by Lidl Ireland, while Crosscare Food Services provided a team of their own trained volunteers.
It is estimated the surplus food will create 120,000 meals over the next year.
"Lidl were the first to say they would work with us to change that (food wastage)," Mr McDonagh said, adding that "one in 10 Irish families are going hungry".
Any food that isn't donated to the local charities or used in the Community Cafes will be frozen to prevent waste.
Mr McDonagh urged any retailers interested in donating surplus food to contact Crosscare Food Service.
"We are hoping that this will grow and grow," he said.
Crosscare Food Service established the food bank 30 years ago, and have diverted 550 tonnes of food from landfill annually since 1983.