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UK could be losing out on 800m meals from ‘hidden food’ which could help 5.8m people in ‘deep poverty’

UK could be losing out on 800m meals from ‘hidden food’ which could help 5.8m people in ‘deep poverty’

Food Waste Reduction July 29th 2014

UK could be losing out on 800m meals from ‘hidden food’ which could help 5.8m people in ‘deep poverty’

Charity already provides over 12m meals a year from this ‘hidden food’ to tackle food hunger

The UK could be losing out on 800m meals from ‘hidden food’ which could help 5.8m people living in ‘deep poverty’, according to food redistribution charity FareShare. The charity already provides over 12m meals from this ‘hidden food’ source to tackle food hunger.

FareShare which celebrates its’ 10th anniversary as an independent organisation this year, tackles food poverty through redistributing food surplus (within the food and drink industry) to charities. It estimates that up to 400,000 tonnes of this food surplus is edible and in date and could provide 800m meals; equivalent to 13 meals per person in the UK.

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare said: "FareShare has been working with leading supermarkets and suppliers for over 20 years to rescue good food from going to waste and redirect it to people in need across the UK. Over the past decade we have redistributed enough surplus to provide over 67m meals. This is a great milestone to reach in our 10th anniversary and we are only using 1.5 per cent of surplus food. However this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is potentially available and we could be providing so much more from this source.

"We have built a sustainable and successful model to tackle food hunger through food waste, which all started thanks to our original founders Crisis and Sainsbury’s. Without their input we wouldn’t be here today helping feed 62,200 people daily and I look forward to building on this success for the future."

The original FareShare was established in 1994 by homelessness charity Crisis and Sainsbury’s from a similar model in America which put surplus food to good use. They looked into setting up the first FareShare model in London that year. Crisis expanded FareShare from 1994 to 2004 and Sainsbury’s became one of FareShare’s major food partners. FareShare then became an independent organisation in 2004 to expand and now has 18 regional centres across the UK with more branches opening later this year.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis said: "FareShare’s continued success is a real source of pride for us here at Crisis and a testament to the dedication of its staff. We established FareShare 20 years ago as a way to get surplus food to people who need it most and it has remained true to its founding mission, thriving as a charity in its own right. Sadly, its work is now more important than ever."

Sainsbury’s Head of Sustainability, Energy and Environment Paul Crewe said: "We’re delighted to celebrate FareShare’s 10th anniversary with them as a founding partner. I’ve watched the charity go from strength to strength and hope their important work continues for many years to come."

Since becoming an independent organisation in 2004, FareShare has seen huge growth in the following areas:

  • FareShare’s growing reach in food poverty in the UK; the number of meals provided by FareShare has increased by more than 300% over 10 years. (1)
  • FareShare’s rapid growth; the number of charities becoming FareShare members have increased by more than 400% over 10 years. (2)
  • FareShare’s growth in tackling food waste by redistributing surplus food*; the amount of food FareShare redistributes has increased by 205% over 10 years. (3)

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare concluded: "We have grown phenomenally over the past 10 years in our UK operations and our links within the food and drink industry. We have a huge challenge in the future in getting further into the supply chain to meet ever growing demand for our services but we have a solid and sustainable solution to food poverty which can help tackle an ever growing issue in Britain."


* Surplus food in the food and drink industry supply chain that would otherwise go to waste.
(1) FareShare provided 2.8 million meals in 2004-05, that number has increased to more than 12 million in 2013-14, an increase of 328% over 10 years.
(2) FareShare redistributed food to 250 charities and community organisations in 2004-05, that number has increased to 1,296 in 2013-14, an increase of 418 per cent over 10 years.
(3) FareShare redistributed 1,800 tonnes in 2004-05, that number has increased to 5,500 in 2013-14, an increase of 205% over 10 years.


For more information please contact Gurvinder Sidhu, Senior PR and Press Officer at FareShare on 0207 394 2460 | 07415 238 328 |

About FareShare

FareShare is a unique charity fighting hunger and its underlying causes by redistributing surplus food (from food and drink industry) to local charities across the UK.

FareShare Model

The FareShare model has multiple benefits:
Economic benefits;
1. FareShare has saved the UK local charity sector around £94m in savings since 2004.
2. Each charity saves around £13,000 a year on average through FareShare which they reinvest in support services to help vulnerable people get back on their feet.
Social benefits;
1. FareShare provides food to different types of local charities across the UK including breakfast clubs for children, lunch clubs for older people and food for charities tackling a wide range of social issues such as homelessness, disability and substance misuse addiction.
2. FareShare ensures all of its local charities and community organisations are meeting food hygiene standards and provide Level 2 food hygiene courses.
3. FareShare offers training and placements for volunteers in all regional centres in areas such as warehouse logistics and forklift truck training. Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds including long-term unemployment, people recovering from alcohol and drug addictions, graduate placements and work experience placements for young people aged 16+.
Environmental benefits;
1. FareShare rescues and redirects surplus food (from food and drink industry) to local charities to stop it from going to landfill.
Health benefits;
2. FareShare launched an Eating Well programme this year to enable FareShare charity members to pass on healthy, practical cooking skills to people using their services.

FareShare UK-wide

FareShare operates in 18 regions in the UK, across more than 135 towns and cities including Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, providing food to over 1,290 charities.
Last year, we provided food for over 12 million meals, helping to reach 62,200 people each day. FareShare are opening more regional centres later this year.


Food poverty in the UK

  • – 13 million people are living in poverty in the UK with 5.8 million living in ‘deep poverty’ (Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2013)
  • – FareShare’s latest National Impact Survey amongst its members showed that 59% of charities we support have seen more people turning to them for food, 42% face funding cuts which means cutting the services they offer or stop providing food and 70% say demand for their services will only increase in the future.
  • – FareShare’s definition of food poverty: People with low or no income with limited access to affordable nutritious food and lack of knowledge, skills or equipment to ensure food is safe and prepared properly


Food waste in the UK

  • – 3.9 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the supply chain in the UK FareShare estimate 10% of this is surplus and fit for human consumption, enough food for 800 million meals. (Estimates of waste in the food and drink supply chain, WRAP, September 2013)
  • – We currently handle approximately 1.5% of the surplus food available in the UK
  • – Last year FareShare redistributed 5,500 tonnes of food. The majority of this food is fresh, such as fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products
  • – The term surplus applies to any food that does not have a commercial outlet but is within date and can still be consumed. It has become surplus for various reasons including overproduction, errors in forecasting, incorrect labelling and damaged packaging