Food redistribution improves the lives of vulnerable people

13 December 2016

14 December 2016

46% of people turning to charities for food have gone a day without a proper meal in the last month, research has revealed. The report More than meals: Making a difference with FareShare food by NatCen Social Research also quantifies the benefits of food redistribution on vulnerable people beyond the provision of much-needed food.

The report found that 75% of the beneficiaries are able to save money as a result of the food provided by charities, such as community centres, homeless hostels and luncheon clubs for older people. With savings used on a variety of purposes, including paying bills and rent, as well as seeking employment, this demonstrates that food provision by charities to vulnerable people has far-reaching benefits and impact.

The food provided by FareShare to thousands of charities not only helps to fulfil the dietary and nutritional needs of people in need, it also improves their physical and mental well-being. 53% of beneficiaries say their physical strength has increased since accessing food at the charity and 92% say the food helps them ‘face the day ahead’. Sharing a meal with people who care also helps fight loneliness and isolation. 82% say that eating a meal at the charity makes them feel part of a community.

Previous research by NatCen found that if charities had to replace the food they currently receive from FareShare, it would be represent an additional yearly cost of approximately £7,900 per charity.  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 the last 12 months, FareShare received 10,795 tonnes of food from the food industry, enough for 21.9 million meals. The charity supported 4,652 charities and community groups, helping to feed almost half a million beneficiaries per week.


Other key findings from the NatCen report included:

  • 57% of clients state they eat their main meal of the day at the charity
  • 59% of clients state that they are now able to eat more fruit and vegetables
  • 53% said their physical strength had improved with 52% reporting an improvement in energy levels
  • 75% of client believe that they had saved money as a result of getting food at the CFM
  • 71% stated that this helped them to pay rent and bills
  • 39% were able to treat their children as a result
  • 33% used the savings to help them attend job interviews of the job centre.

FareShare 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. Not only are these charities providing nutritious meals and much needed food, they are also providing life-changing support that help people get back on their feet. 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.”

For more info, please download the executive summary and full report.