UK could be losing out on 800m meals from ‘hidden food’ – claim

Charity already provided over 1.1 million meals in Birmingham.

The UK could be losing out on 800 million meals from ‘hidden food’ which could help 5.8 million people living in poverty, according to food redistribution charity FareShare. The charity already provides around 1.1 million meals in Birmingham from this ‘hidden food’ source to tackle food hunger.

FareShare which celebrates its’ tenth anniversary as an independent organisation this year, tackles food poverty through redistributing food surplus (within the food and drink industry) to charities. It estimates that up to 400,000 tonnes of this food surplus is edible and in date and could provide 800 million meals; equivalent to 13 meals per person in the UK.

FareShare has a Regional Centre in the West Midlands based in Mount Street in Nechells, Birmingham. From 2013-14, the FareShare West Midlands Regional Centre in Birmingham has redistributed over 520 tonnes of food which has provided over 1.1 million meals to over 70 local charities and community organisations in the city. FareShare has saved the local charity sector in Birmingham over £950,000 and helps to feed over 3,500 people every day.

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare said: “FareShare and its’ partners have been working with leading supermarkets and suppliers for over 10 years to rescue good food from going to waste and redirect it to people in need across the UK including Birmingham. Over the past decade – UK wide – we’ve redistributed enough surplus to provide over 67m meals. This is a great milestone to reach in our 10th anniversary and we are only using 1.5 per cent of surplus food. However this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is potentially available and we could be providing so much more from this source.”

The original FareShare was established in 1994 by homelessness charity Crisis and Sainsbury’s from a similar model in America which put surplus food to good use. They looked into setting up the first FareShare model that year. Crisis expanded FareShare from 1994 to 2004 and Sainsbury’s became one of FareShare’s major food partners. FareShare then became an independent organisation in 2004 to expand and now has 18 regional centres across the UK with more branches opening later this year.

Since becoming an independent organisation in 2004, FareShare has seen the number of meals it provides increase by more than 300% over 10 years.The number of charities becoming FareShare members have increased by more than 400% over the period while the amount of food FareShare redistributes has more than doubled.

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare concluded: “We have grown phenomenally over the past few years in our West Midlands operations and our links within the food and drink industry. We have a huge challenge in the future in getting further into the supply chain to meet ever growing demand for our services but we have a solid and sustainable solution to food poverty which can help tackle an ever growing issue.”