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Food charity diverts surplus food to create over 1.5 million meals for people in need

A Hampshire food charity has saved a record 678 tonnes of fresh, in date surplus food from waste by diverting it to people in need - a 22 percent increase on the year before. 

FareShare Southern Central takes surplus food from the food industry that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors or a short shelf life, but is still good to eat and redistributes it to frontline charities and community groups. Food items and categories redistributed include fresh meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, ready meals, milk and cheeses.

The Totton-based depot currently serves a network of 165 organisations across Hampshire and Dorset - which include school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks and hospices.

These organisations in the last year alone used FareShare food to provide 1,607,540 meals for vulnerable people who might otherwise go hungry. The provision FareShare supplies also enabled them to make a collective saving of £1,303,500.

A national survey found that, on average, each charity saves £7,900 from its yearly food bill by using food from FareShare, with one in five charities saying that without that food they’d have to close. The food also helps the charities provide healthier, more nutritious meals, with 77% saying it’s improved their client’s diets.

FareShare Southern Central Development Manager, Claire Martin, said: “Times are tough for charities, with local authority cuts continuing to bite. The food we redistribute is great quality and tastes just like the food you’d eat at home. It’s amazing that we can take something that could been thrown away and turn it into something that creates enormous social benefit.”

One such organisation is Somerford Youth and Community Centre in Christchurch, which runs a community pantry among other projects. They said: “For the past year Fareshare have been supporting The People's Pantry which has just started its second year of operation. The supplies we have had have been of great benefit to us but more importantly to our community. Having the range of food that Fareshare were able to deliver has enabled us to provide a wide range of food to families which has included fresh meat, fruit and vegetables.”

A FareShare volunteer in the Totton warehouse

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