Co-op has launched a multimillion-pound fund and a new TV advert to support food charities across the UK and highlight the plight of the three million children living in poverty, as well as the eight million adults experiencing food insecurity in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The nationwide campaign, including TV and print adverts, digital content and in-store point of sale, will tell the story of the growing number of UK families struggling to put food on the table.

The TV advert features children all over the country shouting “what’s for tea?,” to highlight that what is taken for granted by the majority is a growing problem for some households.

Co-op has committed to a 20p donation every time a customer buys a picnic product – including sausage rolls, scotch eggs and chicken wings – in one of its stores. The retailer expects to raise up to £2m for the National Emergencies Trust (NET), helping to fund local food charities in the UK.

The new funding is in addition to the almost £4m Co-op, its members and customers, have donated to FareShare since the Covid-19 crisis started.

“It’s heart-breaking to think of people, especially children, going hungry in the UK and we are determined to do everything we can to support those who are most vulnerable in the communities we serve,” said Co-op customer director Alison Jones.

“Along with our customers and members we have donated millions of pounds and provided emergency food support to enable five million meals to be shared, but much more is needed.”

NET CEO John Herriman added: “By distributing funds as swiftly as possible to thousands of grassroots charities and groups, the National Emergencies Trust’s aim is to lessen the blow to communities who are still struggling to cope.”

The organisation has allocated more than £61m to support more than 8,000 local charities since March.

“As the government schemes that have proved a lifeline for so many start to draw to a close, the need within communities will inevitably continue,” he said. “Funds raised this summer through our partnership with Co-op will enable us to continue to respond to those continuing urgent needs on the ground, whatever they are and wherever they may be.”