by Michael Shields, General Manager FareShare North East
On Sunday 28th September, 50 or so people attended the FareShare Banquet at the award-winning Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle. Hosted by Blackfriars MD Andy Hook, the event raised £1,000 for the project and helped us increase awareness of food waste and food poverty. The banquet was prepared, cooked and served by clients of Changing Lives and their involvement enabled them to gain new skills and benefit from the experience of working in a restaurant setting. The clients made a huge contribution on the day, really enjoyed it, did it with a big smile and walked out of the door having enhanced their CVs. The win-wins continued as the food used on the day was provided by FareShare North East and originated from food companies that classified it as surplus… or in other words if it wasn’t for FareShare’s intervention it would have ended up in a rubbish skip.
FareShare does this day in day out and redirects surplus food before it goes anywhere near a waste disposal site…. food that has not passed it expiry and is perfectly safe and good to eat. We are not talking about Mrs Jones at 3 Acacia Gardens throwing out half a loaf of bread here ‘n there, rather a Mr Kipling wasting several pallets of apple pies…. commercial food waste.
It’s not surprising that food waste is an emotive issue as the UK Food Industry wastes 3 Million Tonnes of product each year. Or, to put it another way, enough to fill Wembley Stadium twice over. Whether the reason is incorrect forecasting, promotional lines, short coded product or cosmetically damaged packaging the fact is that ‘no good food should be wasted’ – and this is what FareShare seeks to do… to take an environmental problem of food waste and turn it into a social solution – fighting food poverty.
In the North East Region, FareShare redistributes approximately 20 Tonnes per month to 80 Community Projects that support vulnerable people. The projects supplied benefit from cost savings on their food bill and can plough that saving into other services and maintain or extend their food provision to their clients. More win-wins and all good stuff – but the scope for growth is enormous – as is the demand.
There are pockets of this country where 1 in 10 people have faced food poverty… where they have relied on family or friends for food, visited a food bank or worst of all – gone without. This at a time when the vast majority of commercial surplus food is still sent to landfill. So, imagine the difference only another 20 Tonnes of food per month could make… more cost savings to community projects, more disadvantaged mouths fed and reduced CO2 emissions as the food ends up on a plate rather than in a skip.