On 3rd April food redistribution charity FareShare opened their new warehouse in Newcastle, which will allow them to reach even more vulnerable people across the North East with their food services.
FareShare has access to a wide range of surplus goods from supermarket supply chains that would otherwise be destined for waste. Food waste is a huge issue in the UK, with 1.9 million tonnes wasted every year. Experts estimate that 270,000 tonnes of surplus food could be redistributed to provide 650 million meals for people in need – which is exactly what FareShare are trying to do.
They currently access six percent of the UK’s total food waste, and they’re always aiming higher. We spoke to Jake Hanmore, General Manager of FareShare North East, about the work they’re doing in the region. ‘We’ve got a range of charities that we work with, from community cafés and school breakfast clubs to homeless centres and drug rehabilitation centres, right through to food pantry schemes, where local communities allow people to come in and top up their food stores,’ Jake explains.
But who helps FareShare provide the services they do? ‘We have a wide range of supermarkets and suppliers who are very supportive of what we do,’ he continues. ‘We had help from Asda with the warehouse opening and we couldn’t operate without their funding and investments and, of course, the food they supply us.’
In the North East, Jake estimates that they reach about 10,000 people a week – an incredible number that is growing constantly. With the new warehouse, they hope to provide an extra 300,000 meals each year, as well as recruit 35 new charities who receive food which will help them reach an additional 3,745 people every week. Last year they moved a whopping 305 tonnes of surplus food, and the early indications show that this figure will be higher in 2019.
Currently FareShare North East has 39 volunteers, 122 charities they work with directly, and a further 10–15 they work with on intermittent schemes such as holiday hunger programmes. Moving such a massive amount of food obviously takes a lot of work, and they’re always looking for new volunteers.
They’re always in need of drivers and drivers’ mates to help get food out to the charities, as well as people to work in the warehouse sorting through new stock and packing orders. ‘This includes a lot of fresh produce that was on its way to a supermarket but diverted to us last minute,’ says Jake. ‘This might be because the forecast changed and now that excess stock of barbecue food won’t sell, or for reasons like packaging errors. We had a product where the labels had been printed upside down – things that might make a buyer walk past it in the supermarket but is absolutely fine for us.’
And if you’re savvy with social media, they want you too. ‘We want people to help us raise the profile of FareShare and raise awareness of what we do,’ he says. Whatever your background or skill set, they’ll find something for you to do. They recently recruited a retired gentleman with an extensive career in the food industry who now carries out kitchen and hygiene inspections for the charities on behalf of FareShare.
Within the next two or three years, FareShare North East hope to reach up to 400 charities, more than double what they reach now, and they hope to quadruple the amount of food they handle so not only will more people benefit from their services, they’ll benefit from more food too.
If you’re interested in volunteering for FareShare or learning more about what they do, visit www.fareshare.org.uk