BIG-hearted market traders in Dudley are donating fruit and vegetables to local foodbanks and charities in a bid to help the community as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

The kind move comes as food stalls continue to operate at the town centre market after Dudley Council agreed to cover their rent for three months to help keep the food stalls going.

As a thank you, the traders are offering bagfuls of fruit and vegetables for any local foodbanks or charities that are able to get to the market and collect them.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said: "Markets are the lifeblood of any town, and we want to do all we can to protect the livelihoods of our valued stall-holders during these difficult and unprecedented times.

"We are offering an initial rent-free period for three months to those who are still able to trade.

"By keeping our Dudley market partially open, it will help alleviate the pressure on supermarkets and reduce the risk of crowding in these shops. It will also enable people to make shorter journeys to buy essential food items.

"The market is operated by Tudor Markets, so as a council we have offered to subsidise the rents for those traders.

"I appreciate the fantastic gesture offered up in return – it shows we really are all in it together, and that we will come out of the other side of this together, and stronger."

Foodbank stocks in the Black Country have been hit hard by the crisis due to supermarket stockpiling.

Responding to the food traders' donations, James Willis, managing director of Tudor Markets, said: "Traders are naturally worried about the future of their businesses during this incredibly testing time.

"They are so grateful for this gesture by the council to cover the rent for three months, which will give them the ability in the short term to continue providing essential, healthy food for people in the town.

"The traders have made a fantastic gesture of their own, and we hope to be able to help restock local depleted foodbanks and help people who need it most.

"In the meantime, Tudor Markets will take extra precautions to ensure the safety of our traders and the local community by introducing further measures around social distancing."

Foodbanks or charities who want to collect donations are asked to call James at Tudor Markets on 01384 231635.