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Closing up shop – 1 in 5 charities face shutdown without FareShare food provision, report reveals

25 February 2016

Thursday 25 February 2016

Almost 20% of charities said they would probably shut down if they did not receive food support from FareShare, research has revealed.

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The report, ‘Saving money, improving lives: Survey of FareShare’s Community Food Members’ by NatCen Social Research found that charities and community projects estimated that if they had to replace the food they currently receive from FareShare, it would be represent an additional yearly cost of approximately £7,900 per charity. The total value of this food contribution across all charities supported by FareShare at the time of the report was estimated to be £16 million a year. In a sector where funding is already stretched, 19% of charities surveyed said they would definitely or probably close altogether without help from FareShare.

FareShare is the charity fighting hunger and food waste by saving in-date surplus food from waste and redistributing it to charities across the UK. In 2015, FareShare received 8,500 tonnes of food from the food industry, enough for 17.7 million meals. The charity supported 2,290 charities and community groups, helping to feed 194,650 beneficiaries per week.

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Other key findings from the NatCen report included:

  • Without the current supply of FareShare food:
    • 58% of charities surveyed thought they might have to reduce the amount of food they provide clients.
    • 25% thought they might have to cut back other services.
    • 12% thought they might have to reduce staff numbers
  • 70% indicate that the quality of food they are providing has increased.
  • 58% said that receiving food from FareShare has enabled them to invest in other areas they would not otherwise have been able to.

The charity’s CEO, Lindsay Boswell explains: “The report shows how important food is in enabling charities to provide meals but also other support to help people back on their feet.

“FareShare is supporting charities to provide hundreds of thousands of meals each week while at the same time increasing the number of clients using other services: 27% of charities had offered additional social or befriending services, 23% additional recreational and leisure activities and 18% additional benefits advice. By redistributing good food that would otherwise be wasted, making sure it is used for its purpose, FareShare enables charities to reinvest £2.3 million a year into other areas and support services, such as general overheads and bills, recreational activities and training for clients or additional staff.

“Given the continuing budgetary constraints faced by many organisations in the public and voluntary sectors, the need for FareShare’s services is only likely to grow over the coming years. We therefore need more companies to get on board and do the right thing with their surplus food and work with us to help charities feed people.”

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SIFA Fireside is a Birmingham-based charity that provides 60 breakfasts and 100 lunches each weekday for people who are homeless or vulnerably housed. Chief Executive Cath Gilliver, said: “We couldn’t do this without the support of FareShare, and this frees up our resources to focus on getting people into accommodation and employment.”

The Disabled People’s Contact run at Deptford Methodist Mission includes a Day Centre for elderly, disabled people and an evening club for adults with learning disabilities. Erica Ross, Day Centre Manager said: “Having a relationship with FareShare has in the first year reduced our food bill by 30%. As a charity, this has enabled us to put more money towards the cost of day trips, entertainment and activities. It is a bit like fundraising in reverse!”

Keith Fernett, Chief Executive of Caritas Anchor House says: “Each year, Caritas Anchor House gives over 210 people somewhere to live and the support necessary to rebuild their lives. As part of our services, we provide our residents with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Working with FareShare enables us to save about £12,000 each year. This saving allows us to subsidise our restaurant and means we can reinvest the funds in the provision of education, training, employment and healthcare services for our residents. It helps us provide a variety of cooked food to our residents at breakfast, rather than just a bowl of cereal.

You can download the report here.