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Tuesday 24th May 2016

FareShare are a charity committed to redistributing unwanted food to those most in need. Last year they sourced and shared enough food for 17.7 million meals, but despite their huge efforts there is still a long way to go.

Food waste and poverty are rife within the UK; it is said that 5.8 million people are living in ‘deep poverty’ making it hard to afford essentials including food. Meanwhile vast quantities of perfectly edible food are being wasted. A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2010 showed that the food and drink industry are wasting 3.9 million tonnes of food every year. An estimated 10% of this could provide another 800 million meals for those in need.

A further study from April 2016 said that about 1,252,000 people, including 312,000 children, have been considered destitute at some point during 2015. Destitution has proved a hard term to define, but it is said that “the general public considers people to be destitute when they cannot afford to buy the essentials to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean.”

Me and the other Paper Round volunteers spent the afternoon unpacking food crates and dividing it into categories. The warehouse felt like the hub of FareShare, where an atmosphere of lively activity pervaded. Stacks and stacks of donated food filled the aisles. Boxes, crates and wooden pallets were all piled high awaiting organisation and distribution. The priority was for items with a shorter shelf life to be processed quickly, ensuring they’d be used up in time and nothing would be wasted! Once reorganised, the food is packed up into appropriate portions and sent out to the charities FareShare supports.

Fareshare have an important emphasis on providing more than just meals. The organisations they send food donations to provide crucial support, not just hot meals, to those using their services. The day was hard work, but ultimately very rewarding. FareShare rely heavily on their volunteer network in order to get the job done and reach as many people as possible. So we left knowing we’d made a difference in helping turn a problem with waste into a meal and providing a helping hand to those in need.

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