Online food and drink retailer Approved Food is teaming up with a speciality food producer to raise £10,000 for NHS charities.

Customers shopping with the Barnsley-based business will be able to snap up one of a specially produced range of hand-decorated Health Care Heroes gingerbread men for £1, with every penny going to NHS Charities Together. With 4,000 initially on offer, this would raise £4,000 for the charity – in addition to an initial £400 raised when Approved Food bought the original stock.

MD Andy Needham said once the first consignment has been sold, he will replenish supplies – with the aim of raising a total of £10,000 for the cause.

The gingerbread men are produced by Coventry-based Handmade Speciality Products, under the ‘Oh So Scrummy’ brand. The company specialises in individually wrapped baked products such as flapjacks and muffins for the hospitality, food-service and education sectors. When the lockdown was enforced, this customer base largely evaporated overnight, leaving Handmade with an excess of short-dated stock.

Andy responded to a call on social media from the business and stepped in to help sell on several pallets of food that might otherwise have gone to waste.

Like so many others, Handmade has had to adapt to different ways of working – one of which was to diversify production to create the Health Care Hero gingerbread as a means of keeping production moving and additionally raising money for the NHS. Each character is individually wrapped and is hand decorated with a stethoscope and a doctor’s white coat.

Handmade’s original idea was that 10p from every gingerbread figure sold would go to the charity – but Approved Food will be going the extra mile and donating £1 per item – the full selling price on the Approved Food website.

“You can’t fail to be moved by the dedication and sacrifice that the NHS frontline workers have demonstrated during this pandemic,” said Andy. “The Health Care Hero range is a fantastic way for us as a company to thank them for their incredible work – and it’s an easy way for our customers also to show their appreciation.

“The money raised will help make a difference to our NHS heroes who are giving their all in the fight against this horrible disease. Whatever we can do to give them a boost or make their lives a little bit easier is more than worth it.”

Approved Food regularly donates food, drink and household items to good causes. In the last few months, it has supported the Huddersfield Town Foundation Big Sleep Out, numerous local foodbanks, Huddersfield Street Kitchen and a charity bike ride to raise money for a Sheffield hospital’s cancer centre.

However, this is the first time the business has sold goods to directly raise money for charity.

Andy added: “Our customers are a fantastic bunch and we hope they will love this new offering. The more we sell, the more money that goes directly to the NHS Charities Together to give dedicated staff and volunteers working around the clock a boost just when they need it the most.”

The Health Care Hero range can be found on the Approved Food website:  https://bit.ly/2BofMRD

NHS Charities Together is a collaboration of charities that work together to help the NHS do more, raising money for items such as welfare packs filled with energy-boosting snacks, or toiletries for staff who can’t go home and have to stay overnight, nutritious meals, electronic tablets so they can stay connected to their families and, where needed, psychological counselling.