BOSSES at Tesco in Galashiels have defended a move which has taken donated food away from local foodbanks.

Several foodbanks in the central Borders previously benefitted directly from donations being collected close to the checkouts.

But a deal with FareShare has seen distribution handed over to the Edinburgh-based charitable organisation.

And now all donations, as well as surplus fresh produce, are sent to a depot in Edinburgh for distribution.

A foodbank insider told us: "In the past deposits were collected directly by the local foodbanks here in the Borders.

"If we want to benefit from these donations now we have to sign up to FareShare."

Several local foodbanks have been affected by the change.

But bosses at Tesco Extra are urging all local groups - including all foodbanks - to sign up to their benefits scheme.

A spokesman explained: "We donate surplus food every day to local charities and community groups through our Community Food Connection scheme.

“We would encourage these charities in Galashiels to apply to be part of the scheme.

"There is no cost associated and all food is donated free of charge."

Foodbanks in the central Borders also have regular in-store collections days.

The spokesman added: "Local charities can also apply to host a food collection in the store."

As well as donated items FareShare Central & South East Scotland takes surplus food that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors or a short shelf life.

The produce, which is still good to eat, is then redistributed to frontline charities and community groups.

The Edinburgh based depot, which is run by partner charity Cyrenians, currently serves a network of 136 organisations across central and south east Scotland.

There are currently 10 groups in the Scottish Borders on the distribution list, including school breakfast clubs, a domestic violence refuge, and older people’s lunch clubs.

FareShare Central & South East Scotland Manager, Lynne Collie, told us: “Times are tough for charities, with local authority cuts continuing to bite.

"The food we redistribute is great quality and tastes just like the food you’d eat at home.

"It’s amazing that we can take something that could been thrown away and turn it into something that creates enormous social benefit.”

FareShare last year provided enough food for almost one million meals - worth over £1 million to the charity sector in savings - which helped to feed 14,552 people every week.