FareShare exists because 1 in 8 people in the UK are living in poverty and a quarter of those who regularly go without meals are children. At the same time this poverty co-exists alongside thousands of tonnes of food becoming surplus every day. Food can become surplus – which means that it is not going to be sold – for simple reasons such as over-production, labelling errors or short shelf life, FareShare’s intervention allows us to provide food for over 900,000 people every week.
Through our 21 Regional Centres, we receive large volumes of surplus food such as fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, cereals and dairy products, where our 1,200 volunteers sort, log and reallocate it to our partner charities, who turn it into meals for vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
Alongside this “wholesale” operation, we also have FareShare Go: a programme connecting more than 8,000 local charities with supermarkets to collect end-of-day surplus. Last year these models combined resulted in approximately 74 million KG of avoided CO2 emissions by redirecting more than 20,800 tonnes of food that would have otherwise gone to waste to almost 11,000 charities and community groups across the country.
FareShare helps to increase the capacity of the charity sector to empower disadvantaged communities by enabling charities to save money on their food bills. Combining both FareShare and FareShare Go numbers, the total estimated cost of this food would have been £33.7 million for last year. This is money that our charity partners can now reinvest into their own charitable services supporting individuals living in food insecurity. This could mean paying for a part-time nurse, a well-needed computing upgrade, building repairs, a new vehicle to transport patients or hundreds of other alternatives to give the best care and opportunity to their beneficiaries.
Every £1 raised for FareShare can go on to provide four meals to people in need. Last year FareShare was able to redistribute enough food to make 46.5 million meals. We want to grow this number, we want to feed more people and we want save more food from being needlessly thrown away.
However FareShare currently manages approximately 8% of the fit for consumption surplus in the UK, whilst other redistribution organisations cumulatively access an additional 2%. That means there is substantial potential for us to develop our reach and effect as an organisation. With one in five UK parents struggling to afford to feed their children, it is essential that we continue to grow. We as a charity aim catalyse new processes and behaviours amongst UK food businesses, allowing organisations to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to reduce food waste and the harmful impact it has on our planet.
Edible surplus food occurs at all stages of the food supply chain, from farms to retailers. Oversupply is the biggest cause of surplus food, but human error, damaged packaging, poor sales, food that does not meet aesthetic standards, and seasonal and weather influenced fluctuations all contribute to the 250,000 tonnes of good fit-for-purpose surplus food generated by the UK food industry each year.
Consumer expectations are that supermarket shelves are always full; we have the facility to buy food 24 hours a day and full access to seasonal products year-round. Unless these expectations change, there will always be surplus food generated by the food industry. The way to deliver the best environmental and social outcomes for edible surplus food is to ensure that it is redistributed to feed disadvantaged people.
Climate change is now firmly at the forefront of public consciousness, and the contribution of food waste is becoming increasingly visible. Meanwhile, 2.2 million people across the country are struggling with severe food insecurity; regularly experiencing hunger, reducing quantities or skipping meals altogether. A concerted effort between the voluntary, public and business sector is required to ensure that we save more of the 90% of edible surplus currently going to waste.
There exists no ‘one-size fits all’ solution to food poverty; as a locally experienced problem it requires locally specific solutions. However, through the charities we supply our service supports some of the most excluded and disadvantaged people in the community; people experiencing malnutrition, homelessness, drug addiction, women fleeing domestic violence; ex-offenders, and people with physical and mental health problems. FareShare food provides a means for these charities to engage with their clients, get to the root cause of their problems and relieve them from poverty.
We are connecting people who have vulnerabilities and needs with the services that can really make a difference in their lives.
Please think about the difference one meal can make, it could be the meal that provides the opportunity for a counsellor to talk to a usually evasive attendee. It could be the nutritious meal that a child needs to help them focus in school. It could be the first warm meal that someone has had for weeks during his or her first night’s stay in sheltered accommodation. Every single week there are over 900,000 stories like these.
By supporting FareShare you are supporting you are actually supporting more than 10,000 charities, don’t choose 1 organisation to support. Choose 10,000.