A FACEBOOK group encouraging people to empty their cupboards of unwanted food to help families in Warrington has gone viral.

Just five days after Abbie McGann set up Free Food in Warrington, almost 2,100 people had joined the group and more than 30 families received groceries that were otherwise destined for the bin.

The idea came to the 31-year-old mum of three as she was clearing out the freezer in her Grappenhall home last week.

She said: “There was loads of food in there from a barbecue we’d had over the summer. I knew we weren’t going to eat it before it’s use by date and that it would probably end up being thrown away. It seemed so wasteful and I thought there must something I could do about it.”

She took to social media to canvas opinion on establishing a group for people to donate their in-date but unwanted food to those less fortunate and was overwhelmed by the positive response.

She said: “So many people said they’d like to contribute so I set up the group at about 11pm last Sunday night and by the next day hundreds and hundreds of people had joined and were either offering food or asking for help. By last Friday we had more than 2,000 members and had helped 34 local families.”

It’s been a learning curve for Abbie, who is a client relation manager for Cordant. She has had to establish rules, such as what type of food will be accepted, and how food is collected, but now has recruited a team of group admins helping to manage the volume of donations and requests.

She said: “We’re learning as we’re going along but the response has been incredible. It’s lovely to see how generous people are being and it’s a nice feeling to be able to help other people and do something that is also good for the environment.”

She added: “The average household wastes £700 a year on food by throwing it away. Think smart, why not put it on the page and give it away to someone who could really benefit from it rather than throw it away?”

You can find the group here.