Why we’re backing the national campaign: #FoodOnPlates

FareShare South West is backing the #FoodOnPlates campaign to stop millions of tonnes of fresh, unsold food from being wasted, when it could instead go to charities and community groups feeding families.

One in 8 people in the UK struggles to afford food – and the pandemic has resulted in many more families facing food insecurity, with 67% of charities providing emergency food aid saying they would have to continue, even as restrictions ease.

Despite this, it is cheaper for farmers to waste good-to-eat food than get it to charities putting meals onto people’s plates. France, which offers business incentives through reduced taxation for food redistribution, gets 6x more unsold food to charities.

WRAP estimates there is over 2 million tonnes of edible surplus food in the supply chain, with the majority found on farms.

‘Lifeline’ UK government funding launched in 2018 that helped farmers cover the costs of getting unsold food to charities has been axed – and calls to renew it have been rejected.

The #FoodOnPlates campaign calls for funding of £5m a year to help farmers and food producers cover the costs of safely storing and transporting unsold food so it can be redistributed. This would enable the UK to double the amount of food delivered to those in need. Without it, 53m meals worth of food will be wasted.

During the pandemic, the FareShare network (of which FareShare South West is a member) distributed 19,000 tonnes worth of emergency food supplies donated by government and businesses – thanks to a campaign with ambassador Marcus Rashford – alongside over 35,000 tonnes of good to eat surplus, unsold food from farms and food producers. However, demand for food remains incredibly high – particularly for charities supporting children and families, and for those providing emergency food aid.

In the South West region, food for over 6 million meals was delivered from March 2020-to March 2021, six times more than in 2019. That meant 416 frontline charities, schools and community groups were supported by food, saving vital frontline charity partners £5million in average retail value.

“The need for food support soared in the early days of the pandemic and our frontline partners saw huge demand for their services, and an increased need to support users with food provision. Pre-pandemic levels of food insecurity were already significant and the last year has simply exacerbated and laid bare the issue. With hat in mind, we’re proud to be part of the #FoodOnPlates campaign as we fundamentally believe good food should never go to waste. Instead, we want to see that food reach those who most need it here in the South West and across the country”

FareShare South West CEO, Julian Mines

To write to your MP about the issue, using an easy ready-to-go template, visit: https://fareshare.org.uk/food-on-plates/

“It’s a scandal that good food is left to rot in our fields or be thrown into biogas digesters or landfill when so many families are still dependent on food aid in the wake of the crisis, with thousands more unable to afford healthy fruit and veg.

France rescues six times more unsold food than we do in the UK, in part thanks to tax breaks that cover the additional costs of getting that food to charities. That’s why we’re calling on the government to reinstate lifeline funding to save good food and get it onto people’s plates.”

FareShare UK CEO, Lindsey Boswell.

FareShare is the only charity to take food from the wholesale level of the food industry

The vast majority of surplus occurs before food even gets to the supermarket. Each FareShare regional centre takes that food and redistributes to those in need. FareShare Go is our supermarket collection service, which deals with supermarket-level surplus.

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