The FareShare South West Difference – Why services in Devon & Cornwall are a vital support to regional charities and food suppliers

We have recently opened a new surplus food warehouse in Plymouth, which will deliver food for over one million meals per year, saving 420 tonnes of surplus food from going to waste.

Against the current cost of living crisis, the need for this service is clear. A 2021 study prepared for Devon County Council showed that one in 10 Devon households experienced very low food security, with household members eating less and going hungry due to a lack of money and resources.* Recent figures show that 22% of children in Devon live in poverty, and that rises to 26% in Cornwall. Meanwhile, the climate emergency makes food waste more unacceptable than ever.

The new Devon and Cornwall service has been years in planning and development, alongside umbrella charity FareShare UK. As a charity that takes in over 2,000 tonnes of surplus food each year, and distributes it to over 400 South West charities, we have long wanted to expand further into the region. The first step for us into Devon and Cornwall was to partner with Exeter Food Action and start delivering food to Exeter organisations. Until now, food companies in Devon and Cornwall had few options for their wholesale surplus. The Plymouth warehouse is transformational, unlocking a whole new region of untapped affordable food.

The regular weekly van deliveries mean that surplus can be collected whenever it arises on the return run. This is especially important for local food producers, who may find themselves with extra food that has a short shelf life and would otherwise go to waste. As the service expands and more van routes are launched, charities in areas that were previously inaccessible can benefit from a new food supply. For example, the new delivery run to Tintagel charities returns via a major dairy producer in Lostwithiel.

Exeter Food Action is a key partner of FareShare South West. Working alongside FareShare enables them to offer a wider range of food to the people they support, as well as accepting surplus offered directly to them.

Jon Curtis is from Exeter Food Action,

“Partnering with FareShare South West has been brilliant. We’ve been able to access so many more types of food from different kinds of places. This means that less food needs to be subsidised by recipient charities, saving them money, and enabling them to feed more people. In the Exeter area, we are surrounded by food producers and often offered a huge amount of food that previously we could not accept. Now we have the whole FareShare network to tap into, we can make the most of these opportunities.”

Ginsters has been supplying surplus food weekly to FareShare South West since March 2020.

Alice Rumbold, from Ginsters, says

“Our partnership with FareShare South West is a natural fit; our surplus food donations help feed those most in need, and food waste is naturally reduced. The infrastructure and food safety due diligence that FareShare South West have in place to support its members and protect our communities has helped break through red tape previously encountered when donating branded, chilled surplus food.”

This new Plymouth warehouse is just the start of the expansion into the Devon and Cornwall region to tackle food insecurity in hard-to-reach areas. We are actively seeking partner charities, volunteers and food companies to send their surplus to us.

*[https://www.teigncvs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Devon-Food-Insecurity-Research-Final-Report.pdf] [Devon Household Food Security 2021 study]

The food waste hierarchy calls for food to feed people first

Food companies are legally obliged to use food to feed people before sending to anaerobic digestion or for animal feed. We help them use their surplus to feed people first.

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