Each year, British shops throw away around 1.4 million tonnes of food. Yet at least 10 million people in the UK live in poverty and have difficulty affording a healthy diet. FareShare is an organisation that believes the food waste and food poverty demonstrated in these statistics are two of the most urgent issues facing the country – and it’s determined to take action.
FareShare receives products from the food and drink industry that are perfectly good to eat but would otherwise go to landfill. This may be food that is very close to its sell by date, food that has been overproduced, or food that shoppers will not buy because of minor flaws such as a dent in a can. It then redistributes these products to organisations working with homeless people, addiction centres, supported housing – anywhere where there are people suffering lack of food because of poverty.
The Wild Goose cafe in Bristol, for example, caters for homeless people, offering a substantial hot meal alongside help with accessing work and accommodation. Manager Alan Goddard told FareShare the food they had received had made an enormous difference to the cafe. Costs have gone down so they have been able to take on a new worker, and the quality of the food they serve is so high that some of their clients have actually put on weight.
FareShare was established in 1994 as a project within the homelessness charity Crisis. Since 2004 it has been an independent charity and today operates in 14 locations around the UK, with depots recently opening in Wales and Northern Ireland for the first time.
Alongside the food redistribution, the charity provides education in the safe preparation and handling of food. It also offers vocational training to its volunteers – many of whom come from the organisations that receive food – in areas such as warehouse employability.
FareShare is not afraid of ambitious targets. In 2009/10, the food it redistributed contributed to more than 6.7 million meals, which fed an average of 29,000 people a day and helped businesses reduce CO2 emissions by 12,600 tonnes. In the future it aims to more than triple its impact by redistributing 20,000 tonnes of food a year, supporting 100,000 vulnerable people and offering at least 6,000 volunteer opportunities.
Find out more: http://www.fareshare.org.uk/index.php