The UK’s largest food distribution charity, FareShare, has revealed that only 17,000 tonnes of the 270,000 tonnes of edible surplus food in the supply chain is redistributed to charities each year. As a result, the government is being urged to introduce a £15m fund to address public hunger by preventing edible food from going straight to the landfill, animal feed or anaerobic digestion.
The Government Needs to Take Action
Ministers are being urged by FareShare to end the inequality that remains in the current system. Producers and farmers face the costs of sorting and transporting surplus food for human consumption. FareShare issued a petition calling on the government to introduce a £15m fund to cover the cost of transport and storage of surplus food. Once the petition reaches 100,000 signatures the subject will be considered for debate by parliament.
Valuable Funding is Needed
Currently, FareShare redistributes about 13,500 tonnes of surplus food every year to nearly 7,000 charities. These include hospices, homeless shelters, care homes and women’s refuges. However, the annual target of FareShare is around 100,000 tonnes. The demand for surplus food has drastically increased, due to the growing dependence of food banks and rising homelessness in the UK.
FareShare is ready to tackle the issue of hunger in the UK. The charity has stated that it has the capacity, along with the support of various charities who want to help. However, FareShare needs access to more food, thus a government fund to cover storage and transport would act as a solution.
It Shouldn’t Cost Less to Waste Surplus Food
It appears unjustified that the cost to waste large amounts of edible food is much less than putting it to good use. All the while millions of people in the UK are experiencing food insecurity and are regularly skipping meals.
Most food waste in the UK comes from households, which makes up 71%. Manufacturing contributes a further 17% whilst hospitality and food service makes up another 9%. Other unpredictable factors also lead to food waste. These include: seasonal weather fluctuations, order cancellations and overstocking.
Saving Money and Helping People in the Long Run
If the funding were to be achieved, FareShare’s service would be available to any charity or producer that incurs the costs of redistributing food. Furthermore, making free food available to charities and other beneficiaries could save them up to £150m.
It is understood that environment ministers have held informal discussions about giving farmers and food producers financial incentives to encourage them to give waste food to those who are struggling. However, FareShare insists that there needs to be changes so that it’s not cheaper to waste food or turn it into animal feed or energy.