FareShare sees record increase in demand

FareShare has announced that it has seen the biggest increase in the numbers of people fed by the charity since it started operations in 2004.

The charity seeks to reduce food waste by diverting it from landfill. It does this by collecting surplus food and delivering it to a range of homeless shelters, women’s’ refuge centres, children’s breakfast clubs and luncheon clubs for the elderly. Last year, it provided food for 10 million meals, according to a statement from the charity.

FareShare states that the 4,200 tonnes of food it distributes per day are enough to feed 43,700 people, 7,200 more than at the same time last year. Eighty-eight per cent of the food was ‘surplus’, meaning it was in date and edible but would otherwise have gone to landfill. By diverting this food away from landfill, the charity claims it helped businesses save 1,850 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Lindsay Boswell, FareShare CEO, said: “Last year we fed more people than ever before but we know the demand for our services is increasing at an alarming rate.

“At a time when so many people are going hungry, FareShare provides a practical solution by ensuring food is used as intended. We estimate that we handle less than one per cent of the surplus food available so we desperately need more responsible food businesses to work with us.”

Food industry working group

In January 2013 the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) launched a food redistribution industry working group with the aim of ‘increas[ing] the amount of surplus food made available for delivery to those in need’.

Andy Dawe, Head of Food and Drink at WRAP and Chair of the industry working group, said: “Preventing waste arising not only saves money in tough economic times but also provides environmental savings. Where there is a surplus of food it is important to make sure it’s being used in the best possible way.

“The cost of food is rising, and this means that some of the most vulnerable groups in society sometimes struggle to afford food. Increasing food redistribution will help the poorest in society and prevent perfectly good food from going to waste, along with all that went into making it.

“By tackling this with key players across the supply chain we can collectively discover what works and what doesn’t to find the best solutions that we hope will lead to increased redistribution.”

FareShare’s Lindsay Boswell commented on the working group, stating: “We welcome recent collaborations within the industry that have put food redistribution on the agenda but we need these initiatives to deliver.”

Politicians must recognise ‘food poverty’

The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks across the UK and Bulgaria, estimates that almost 350,000 people turned to its foodbanks in the UK in 2012-13, representing an increase of 170 per cent on the previous year. Of this number, 126,889 were children.

Commenting on the situation, Trussell Trust Executive Chairman Chris Mould said: “The sheer volume of people who are turning to foodbanks because they can’t afford food is a wake-up call to the nation that we cannot ignore the hunger on our doorstep.

“Politicians across the political spectrum urgently need to recognise the real extent of UK food poverty and create fresh policies that better address its underlying causes. This is more important than ever as the impact of the biggest reforms to the welfare state since it began start to take effect.”

Indeed, Boswell partly attributed the increasing level of FareShare operations to tough economic times: “The amount of food we redistributed increased by 16 per cent last year. However the number of charities we’re supporting increased by 26 per cent and we know there are many more out there that need our support.

“The recession, rising cost of living and unemployment all mean there are more people turning to charities for food.”