We continue a full national operation to get food to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis.

Co-op diverts 5 million meals worth of surplus food to vulnerable communities through FareShare partnership

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27 November 2020

Co-op has diverted more than 5 million meals worth of surplus food to thousands of people at risk of hunger thanks to a partnership with food redistribution charity, FareShare.

“The Covid-19 pandemic means there is more pressure than ever to do the right thing with surplus food and ensure it feeds people first. With the brilliant and continued support of partners such as Co-op we are closer to our mission of ensuring no good food goes to waste – especially whilst millions of vulnerable people nationwide face serious hardship.”

FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell

The retailer’s ten distribution centres first began working with FareShare to divert surplus food to frontline charities across the country in 2015, and in the five years since the equivalent of 5.7 million meals has been saved from waste and provided to those who need it most.

This milestone comes at a crucial time as the FareShare network of over 30 warehouses continues to respond to the Covid-19 crisis - between them having doubled the amount of food distributed since March, to what is now the equivalent of over 2 million meals a week. The charity is the biggest operation fighting hunger and food waste in the UK, diverting surplus food from more than 600 suppliers within the food industry - including Co-op - onto 11,000 frontline charities and community groups, including homeless shelters, school breakfast clubs and food banks.

Co-op's 5 million meals milestone follows its major Local Heroes advertising campaign in support FareShare earlier this year, which resulted in Co-op customers donating enough money to fund the distribution of more than 4 million additional meals through FareShare’s network. The campaign, featuring Marcus Rashford MBE and FareShare employees, saw Co-op staff encourage the UK population to come together and support each other during the Covid-19 crisis by donating to FareShare.

FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell said of the partnership: “As more than 2 million tonnes of good to eat surplus food goes to waste each year whilst more than 8 million people nationwide struggle to afford to eat, FareShare continues to work tirelessly to tackle both issues and connect this food with the communities who need it most. We thank Co-op for its commitment in helping us to make this happen.

“The Covid-19 pandemic means there is more pressure than ever to do the right thing with surplus food and ensure it feeds people first. With the brilliant and continued support of partners such as Co-op we are closer to our mission of ensuring no good food goes to waste – especially whilst millions of vulnerable people nationwide face serious hardship.”

Jo Whitfield, Co-op Retail CEO, said: “Co-operation really is key when it comes to alleviating food poverty. Our long-term partnership with FareShare enables us to get our unsold produce to vulnerable communities right across the country. None of us could have predicted just how essential FareShare’s work would become this year. Many people continue to experience tough times and it’s essential that this important work is able to carry on. We commend FareShare, and its network of UK charities, for the phenomenal efforts they go to in getting millions of meals to those most in need.”

Alongside Co-op, FareShare is also a member of the End Child Food Poverty Task Force with Marcus Rashford. The task force brings together more than 12 organisations from across the food industry in an effort to tackle and bring about lasting change to child food poverty in the UK.