Supermarket bosses have been urged to back a new campaign to give away waste food to help feed West Norfolk’s homeless and needy.
The cause is being championed by businessman Triston Finnis, who has begun talks with businesses and charities.
He said several stores had expressed interest, while a Cambridgeshire firm has also offered fruit and vegetables.
A meeting was held with the Purfleet Trust this week, who have indicated they will support it, though they are cautious about duplicating the work of other charities.
Mr Finnis said: “It’s a simple idea that may turn into something much bigger and better.”
He initially hopes to persuade stores in the town to supply pre-packed sandwiches and ready meals, before extending that to fruit and vegetables.
He said: “Supermarkets throw out a lot of sandwiches and perishable food that is still perfectly good to eat, because of the use by dates.
“This is food that could go to good use in the community, feeding those less fortunate than ourselves.”
He also revealed he had been put in touch with a company in Ely, which is prepared to supply packs of fruit and vegetables which are close to their use by dates.
He admitted the idea had “snowballed” from the original thought, adding: “I’m hoping it’s going to get really, really huge.”
The proposal follows the establishment of a petition on the 38 Degrees campaigning website last week, which calls for the government to act to force store chains to give unsold, but still usable, food to food banks.
The plea, which has already attracted more than 166,000 signatures, follows the proposal of a new law in France which would compel stores with more than 1,000 square metres of trading space, to give its usable, unsold food to charity.
The petition says: “People will be encouraged to live an ever more healthy lifestyle to reduce the pressure on the NHS.
“What better way to do this than to ensure the most needy have access to fresh fruit and vegetables and other basic essentials they currently can only class as a luxury if on benefits or a very low income?”
A similar law was passed in Belgium last month and Mr Finnis said: “Until the UK follows suit, it’s up to the man in the street to speak out.
“Having food on the table is something that many of us take for granted, and there are a great many people who have no idea where their next meal will come from.”
A separate petition on the site, urging supermarkets to make food which has passed its sell by date available to food banks, has also been signed by more than 38,000 people.
Mr Finnis’ proposal has been backed by the Purfleet Trust, who held an initial meeting with him this week. He also hopes to establish connections with other charities.
Chief executive Paula Hall said: “He came to see me and I said we would be very supportive and it would benefit our clients.”
But, although she believes the need for charitable support is still increasing, she is also cautious about the potential to do similar work to that which is already being done by Lynn’s Foodbank to support people and families in need.
She said: “The Foodbank provides an excellent service and we want to clarify it’s not going to be something that is competing with the Foodbank and duplicating what it does.”