New surplus food fund will create almost 250 million meals for good causes

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1 October 2018

Michael Gove has announced today 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.

Commenting, FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell, said: “We congratulate Michael Gove for responding to our call to use surplus food for social good. £15m can create almost 250 million meals worth of food for those in need, preventing in date food from being wasted. That amount of food could provide every single person in Britain with three square meals for one day. Instead this food will go to frontline charities such as breakfast clubs for children, hospices, domestic violence refuges and homeless hostels.

"This will deliver almost £800m a year in overall savings, both in cash terms for the charities themselves and the knock on savings to schools, the NHS, within the criminal justice system and in health and social care.

“FareShare redistributes enough food to feed almost three quarters of a million people a week, delivering food to 10,000 charities, despite only accessing six per cent of the UK’s available surplus. Each one of our 21 regional depots has a waiting list of local charities, and those we do supply tell us they need more food.

“We see this fund as principally for food producers and not the supermarkets. The big supermarkets have already invested in charitable redistribution from their stores and this is about supporting their suppliers to do the same.

“Right now it actually costs farmers, manufacturers and packers a lot less to dump or recycle fresh, in date food than to redistribute it to good causes – in part because of the cost of keeping the surplus food fit for human consumption. With the barriers to charitable food redistribution removed, businesses will no longer be penalised for doing the right thing with their food: using it to feed people.

“This fund means we can get so many more charities more of the food they so desperately need: fresh fruit and veg, meat, dairy and fish -- by diverting food that would otherwise be wasted within the supply chain.

“Independent research has put the social and economic return FareShare currently delivers to the UK at £51 million per annum in health, education and social benefits. This £15 million fund announced today will mean FareShare and other charities in this vital area can dramatically scale up their operations -- supplying ten times more fresh surplus food to charities, and delivering at least £500 million in social value every year.

“The avoided greenhouse gas emissions are also significant but, even more importantly, the enormous environmental, energy and human resources required to farm, manufacture and prepare this food for human consumption will not have gone to waste either.”