Gro­ceries &good­will

Meet the char­ity turn­ing tonnes of food waste into hearty meals for the home­less, hun­gry and in need this Christ­mas

YOURS (UK) - - Real Life - By Katharine Woot­ton

FareShare reaches nearly 10,000 com­mu­nity groups across the coun­try, in­ter­cept­ing 16,992 tonnes of food waste to make around 36.7 mil­lion meals per year

Walk­ing up and down the aisles of the FareShare ware­house, boxes and boxes of tempt­ingly tasty food tower above us, from stacks of choco­lates to bulging crates of win­ter fruit and veg. All this food is per­fectly within date and wor­thy of the finest Christ­mas party, but ev­ery­thing here has been saved from head­ing straight to land­fill.

This is just one of a net­work of FareShare ware­houses across the coun­try, all equally packed with leftover food that would oth­er­wise be binned. But in the hands of this na­tion­wide char­ity, thank­fully, this food will not go to waste. In­stead, it does a great deal of good as a band of happy vol­un­teers in Christ­mas jumpers scan the shelves pack­ing ham­pers of good­ies for groups who re­ally need this food. They range from women’s refuges to home­less shel­ters, el­derly lun­cheon groups to school break­fast clubs for chil­dren who might oth­er­wise not get a proper meal that day.

FareShare started one Christ­mas 24 years ago as an ini­tia­tive be­tween the home­less char­ity Cri­sis and the su­per­mar­ket firm Sains­bury’s. Ini­tially meant to be a one-off, the pi­lot went so well that FareShare turned into a char­ity in its own right, ded­i­cated to

fight­ing food waste and hunger, not just ev­ery Christ­mas but the whole year round.

To­day FareShare reaches nearly 10,000 com­mu­nity groups across the coun­try, in­ter­cept­ing 16,992 tonnes of food waste to make around 36.7 mil­lion meals per year. And all this comes from food the su­per­mar­kets and pro­duc­ers sim­ply don’t want.

“A lot of the food comes to us be­cause the su­per­mar­kets have over-or­dered, the brand­ing’s not right, or the bot­tom of the pal­let the food comes in might be dam­aged,” ex­plains Rachel Led­with, a man­ager at the Lon­don FareShare HQ I visit.

“Noth­ing’s ever out of date and some­times we get the most amaz­ing foods, from sir­loin steaks to pre­mier­range prod­ucts.”

Once the food is at the FareShare ware­house, the team will then sort it into sec­tions ready to pack the boxes to be sent out to in­di­vid­ual groups who need it. As FareShare never knows what food is go­ing to ar­rive from one day to the next, the team has to work hard to try to make sure ev­ery group has enough and the right food to match their needs.

“One group might be ve­gan, while an­other can’t take any­thing that has nuts in, an­other might only eat ha­lal meat, so we have to think closely about the pro­files of our groups and how we can match what we’ve got to what will work for them,” says Rachel. “We also give the groups recipe sug­ges­tions for how they might use the items we give them.

“For ex­am­ple, we just re­ceived a big sur­plus of bar­be­cue sauce and while bar­be­cue sea­son is ob­vi­ously long gone, we’ll spend time ad­vis­ing groups how they might be able to use it in win­ter dishes.”

Once the boxes are packed, vol­un­teer driv­ers then hit the road to de­liver th­ese to the lo­cal groups who are al­ways so thank­ful for the food.

“Some­times feed­ing peo­ple isn’t the main ob­jec­tive of the groups we’re de­liv­er­ing to but food is such a great way of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether, by of­fer­ing them a meal they might also be able to get other help, such as debt ad­vice if they’re fac­ing home­less­ness or com­pan­ion­ship if they’re el­derly

‘Some­times feed­ing peo­ple isn’t the main ob­jec­tive of the groups we’re de­liv­er­ing to, but food is such a great way of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether’

and lonely. Giv­ing food is so sim­ple, but can have such a knock-on ef­fect,” says Christie Gar­ratt, a mem­ber of staff at the Lon­don ware­house.

And it’s not just the re­cip­i­ents who ben­e­fit. The vol­un­teers here say they get so much from spend­ing their time help­ing out. “I love putting thought into who I’m cre­at­ing the box for, what they need and what they’ll like as it makes it feel like more of a gift,“says Jean­nine Lehman who’s been a vol­un­teer for six years. “Even if we’re not giv­ing out Christ­mas food specif­i­cally – as it’ll de­pend what food we get given – we know we’re giv­ing this joy to peo­ple at a time when they wouldn’t have oth­er­wise have had that. One of my favourite things to do is de­liver the boxes to the school groups as the chil­dren all run up to us with smiles, so happy to see us bring the food and that’s re­ally heart-warm­ing.

“Food waste wasn’t some­thing I ever re­ally thought about be­fore I started work­ing here but now I’ve be­come so aware of it.”

An­other vol­un­teer, Viv Lund, adds, “It’s fan­tas­tic work­ing with the other vol­un­teers, as you meet so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple. It’s also like go­ing to the gym as it’s very phys­i­cal – but lots more fun. And it’s great that we can help tackle the waste of thou­sands of tonnes of per­fectly good food be­ing thrown away.”

In the run-up to Christ­mas, it’s all hands to the pump to help get enough for daily meals and spe­cial fes­tive treats to char­i­ties ad groups who may be host­ing Christ­mas par­ties. ■

Get­ting their five a day! Vol­un­teers at FareShare sort fresh fruit ready for de­liv­ery

Pile it high! Vol­un­teers check the food be­fore it is packed and distributed

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.