12 October 2018
We did it! You petitioned the Government to #feedpeoplefirst and now it will become reality.
After five years of campaigning with other food charities, industry and The Grocer, and this year’s successful petition, we got the Government on our side. Last Monday, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced at the Conservative Annual Conference that a £15m fund will be made available to offset the cost of diverting surplus food within the supply chain to charities.
Put simply, it means that businesses will no longer be penalised for doing the right thing with their surplus food. So instead of being sent to anaerobic digestion plants or landfill, this good quality, in date food will go to frontline charities like breakfast clubs for children, hospices, domestic violence refuges and homeless hostels.
In practical terms this could mean charities could receive even ten times more food – enough to create a quarter of a billion (no, that’s not a typo!) meals a year. That’s enough food to give every single person in the UK three full meals for one day.
The money from the fund will be available to businesses - but the implications of this for the charities supporting vulnerable people are seismic. Not only will the charities get more food and a greater variety of it, they’ll be able to reinvest the saving on their food bill straight back into their vital services.
We want to say a massive thank you to all of our supporters. By signing the petition earlier this year and supporting FareShare, you helped us highlight that this was an issue the Government had to take seriously. We also want to pay tribute to the incredible campaigning efforts of The Grocer magazine and our fellow food charities, particularly The Felix Project.
It’s an enormous step forward, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Over the coming months we’ll be working with industry and DEFRA to make sure this food really delivers for the charitable sector: pushing for the fund to be focused on those food businesses whose surplus food charities want. This fund must not become a way for food that is not needed to be dumped on the voluntary sector.
We’ll also be working closely with other food redistribution charities to create the most efficient and cost-effective charitable redistribution system possible, avoiding duplicating supply chain logistics – and making it as easy as possible for charities on the ground to get hold of the food.
Finally, as we are anticipating these volumes of food coming into our 21 Regional Centres, we’ll need more hands on deck to get it out to the charities that need it. We urgently need volunteer drivers, packers, sorters and organisers - so if you can spare a few hours a week, please sign up to volunteer - there are lots of ways in which you can make a difference.