A COMMUNITY worker says she was “disgusted” by the way supermarket staff treated her when she tried to purchase supplies for her holiday hunger programme.

Maureen Powell, 68, from Colchester, is a retired hairdresser who has been running Munch Clubs at a youth café since October 2018.

The essential scheme functions on behalf of deprived and vulnerable children in need of food and who constantly live at risk of going hungry.

Before the pandemic, the group operated in Berechurch, Greenstead, Old Heath, and Rowhedge, but it is now serving people all over Colchester with home deliveries.

Basildon Standard: Lidl in Gosbecks Road, ColchesterLidl in Gosbecks Road, Colchester

On Sunday afternoon the dedicated volunteer visited Lidl, in Gosbecks Road, to purchase supplies which would ultimately be given to families in need.

But according to Ms Powell, when she attempted to buy 18 boxes of cereal, she was confronted by supermarket staff who refused her.

She said: “I was treated appallingly, three of the staff congregated around the till as if I was going to steal them – it was very intimidating and embarrassing.

“I tried to explain that I run a charity for families in need, but I was ignored and everyone in the queue was staring at me.

“All three of the staff spoke over me as if I were not there, and they were just so rude. and I was disgusted with them.”

Ms Powell says the store workers likely prevented her from buying the haul through fear she was hoarding in response to the latest coronavirus lockdown.

The foodbank volunteer, who works to supply food for 100 families, says she was eventually allowed to buy six boxes of cereal.

She added: “I know there are people who are stockpiling, and I totally understand that.

“They just refused to listen and instead told me to go to Bookers, but that can cost a lot more money and I have to save money where I can.

“They said I had emptied the shelves, what a load of rubbish. It was humiliating and a rubbish day.”

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A spokesman for Lidl said the decision to prevent people from purchasing items remained at the manager's discretion. 

"At Lidl GB, our store teams are working hard to ensure that our customers continue to have access to the products they need during this challenging time.

"We want to ensure that our products are available for all, and as such, at our store managers discretion, the decision may be taken to limit the purchasing of specific items.

"Some of our stores do allow for larger volumes of items to be purchased on behalf of charities, but a letter or necessary ID must be presented to the store manager on arrival, where product quantities are made clear to ensure there is suitable availability for all our customers.

"All of our stores across Great Britain are part of our national food redistribution programme - Feed it Back - in part partnership with Neighbourly, which connects directly with local good causes, such as food banks and charities, enabling edible food surplus to be donated.

"Since launching in 2017 the scheme has so far donated over 6m meals to community projects. We were therefore saddened to hear of this incident at our Colchester store."