A charity partnership between Changing Lives and FareShare UK has seen a North East food charity thrive, growing from a small project receiving a few food items a week to a large local charity supplying enough food to make 1.5 million meals last year. Fareshare North East redistributes food that would otherwise go to waste by the food industry, to supply 235 community groups and charities across the region with healthy, nutritious food.

After 11 years of working together, the Changing Lives and FareShare partnership is coming to an end this summer, with FareShare North East launching independently from Wednesday, 1 July.

Changing Lives, which works with people who are facing some of the toughest challenges in life – including homelessness, substance misuse, abuse, exploitation, and extreme poverty – started the project back in 2009 with the aim of providing nutritious surplus food to people who needed it. They then became part of the FareShare UK network of food redistribution organisations, working to divert food that would otherwise go to landfill, animal feed or anaerobic digestion and to vulnerable people, via local charities and community groups.

Danny Connolly, who managed the project for Changing Lives when it was first launched, said: “When we first started out we were nowhere near the scale that FareShare North East operates today. I remember in the early days when we were struggling to get food donations and operating out of a small warehouse. Some weeks all we would receive were boxes of Bran Flakes and protein balls!

“It’s amazing to see now how far we’ve come in just over a decade. FareShare has grown to become a huge support for many people across the North East, delivering a wide variety of food and fresh ingredients every week.”

The two charities continue to work together closely, as FareShare North East will continue to provide food deliveries to Changing Lives residential projects.

Val Bell, Head of Employment & Enterprise at Changing Lives said: “We are so proud of everything Fareshare North East has achieved in our 11-years of partnership. We began as a small enterprise with big ambitions and over the last decade those ambitions have been realised. What began with only a few food deliveries is now a large regional operation supporting almost 200 charities and community groups a week.

“Its achievements have been even more evident over the last few months during the Coronavirus crisis. Fareshare North East has made outstanding efforts to support those who are vulnerable within our communities. It has gone from distributing 35 tonnes of food a week pre-lockdown to now distributing 191 tonnes per week, helping to fight food poverty. We know that they will go from strength to strength as an independent social enterprise and we wish them the best of luck for the next stage of their journey.”

Jake Hanmore, Manager of FareShare North East, said: “FareShare North East now reaches 235 community groups every week, helping to redistribute over 150 tonnes of food every month, with the support of more than 120 volunteers each week. We couldn’t have reached this point without the continued support through being part of Changing Lives over the years.

“We look forward to working with Changing Lives through combined efforts on employability programs, and through our regular weekly deliveries to 12 different Changing Lives projects every week. This is the next step on an exciting journey that will enable FareShare North East to continue to reduce even more food waste and support greater numbers of community groups across the North East more than ever before.”

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