Can surplus food benefit whole societies?

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Can surplus food benefit whole societies?


FareShare's annual report points to the hugely positive knock on effect of making sure everyone has enough to eat.

Let's talk surplus food.

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Tue 23 Oct 2018

Surplus food redistribution and food waste awareness charity, FareShare, is the UK's largest working in this sector. It delivers food to 10,000 charities and community groups, including homeless hostels, children’s breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges and community cafes.

A new report, by NEF consulting for FareShare, has found that food that is collected and redistributed to charity and community groups by FareShare has a social-economic impact of £50.9 million.

What's more - that amount of food is just 5% of the wasted perfectly good food the UK throws away each year.

As well as the obvious benefit of filling bellies not bins, redistribution of surplus food has a hugely positive impact on society and the economy.

What do we mean by that?

We mean that while there's £7 million saved by the charities and community groups themselves on not having to buy more food - there's nearly £44 million worth of savings to the British State - in money not spent on care to those people in other ways including the NHS and social care - because good food saves lives.

And when there's less strain being put on our public services we all win.

FareShare report on food waste
FareShare report on food waste

Image FareShare redistributed enough food for 37 million meals in the last year

In 2017-2018 FareShare redistributed 17,000 tonnes of in date, good to eat surplus food. (That's enough to create almost 37 million meals). Sounds like a lot doesn't it? It's only a tiny fraction of what is wasted - every year at least 270,000 tonnes of good food is dumped in UK food production. 

FareShare Chief Executive, Lindsay Boswell, said: “We have always known food is a catalyst for good and now we are able to evidence it. A balanced, nutritious diet provides obvious health benefits, but sharing a meal also helps alleviate loneliness and reduces the number of times an isolated person may, for example, book a GPs appointment just so they have someone to talk to. 

The cost avoided by the State by charities serving up nutritious meals with FareShare food is a staggering £51 million every year, and that’s with us accessing just five per cent of the surplus food available. Imagine what we could do if we could get more of it.”  

FareShare is launching a campaign to highlight the positive impact surplus food can have on the people that need it and wider societies. 

'Good Food Does Good' will encourage more businesses to do the right thing with their surplus by demonstrating the difference the food makes to the charities and individuals who receive it.

“We want to be clear – the food we redistribute is in date and good quality, just like the food you’d eat at home. That’s why we’re also launching our Good Food Does Good campaign, to show off our incredible fresh food and to celebrate the amazing businesses who are already giving us their surplus," says Boswell.