The Co-op is to create 5,000 store-based posts which will provide temporary employment for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis.
The retail giant said it is simplifying its recruitment process so successful candidates can start work within days.
Permanent jobs will also be on offer at the Co-op’s 2,600 stores across the country.
Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “The Co-op has a critical role to play in supporting our members, customers and colleagues, as well as the local communities that our stores sit at the heart of.
“Whilst our store and depot colleagues are working around the clock to ensure people have the essentials they need, we are all too aware that many people working in bars, pubs and restaurants are currently out of work.
“It makes perfect sense for us to try and temporarily absorb part of this highly skilled and talented workforce who are so adept at delivering great customer service, as we work together to feed the nation.
“We’re talking to a large number of organisations whose workforces have been affected by this situation.
“To anyone in this position who is looking for a job in one of our stores, our message is simple – please get in touch now. We’ve made the application process quicker than ever and hope to have new colleagues on the ground within a day or two.
“What we need now is genuine, tangible co-operation as we look to support the wider economy and help the nation overcome this challenging period.”
The Co-op added that staff in business support roles who are not currently working in stores or distribution centres are being encouraged to “lend-a-hand” in their local branches to help replenish shelves.
Earlier this week the Co-op also announced measures to combat holiday hunger in pupils caused by unplanned school closures.
Around 6,500 students across 25 Co-op Academy Schools who currently have free school meals will be given a £20 voucher for every week that schools remain shut.