We are aware of the immense pressures on the local charities and community organisations that we support. We understand that many of you are facing particularly challenging times, when the number of people coming to you for help is rising. We know that many of you are concerned about the current food situation and, while we can’t see into the future, we can keep you as informed as possible and reassure you that FareShare Midlands and FareShare UK are doing all that we can to navigate this crisis.
We are also experiencing an unprecedented set of circumstances. The shortfall in the food supplies we redistribute reflects the current catastrophic food situation – not only in this country, but around the world. The cost-of-living crisis, ongoing supply chain issues due to the war in Ukraine, high energy costs, poor weather reducing harvests in Europe and North Africa, reduced output from British farmers and the impact of Brexit are all putting additional pressure on the food industry. The supermarkets are having to sell at heavier discounts and reduce the size of their ranges, while manufacturer output is also down. Any of these issues alone would have an impact, but that they are all happening at the same time is resulting in significantly less surplus food available for redistribution across the UK.
And it’s not just surplus food that is being impacted by the cost of living crisis. The Trussell Trust, which runs the largest network of foodbanks in the UK, is experiencing a huge reduction in donations from members of the public and are now having to buy food at levels never experienced before. 13% of the food that they hand out is now purchased, whereas before the COVID-19 pandemic all food was donated.
The Food Team is working flat out to secure as much surplus food as is possible, liaising with over 500 food companies including all the major retailers. At the same time, the Public Affairs and Communications teams are campaigning tirelessly to raise awareness of the hunger crisis, shocking level of food waste and secure essential support from the Government.
In February, FareShare also asked our community food members to sign a letter to the Prime Minister, to add even more pressure on the Government to recognise the level of current deprivation, and offer financial support. Some of you signed, but perhaps not all: FareShare Letter Charity Sign Up
This story is to be shared on at least 6 ITV regional news programmes and FareShare will also be launching the Social Impact Report at an event in Parliament on 12th June.
FareShare UK are also investing in new technology designed to improve how we link to the food industry for when their food become surplus. This important development comes at a huge cost to the charity – an investment that is being made on behalf of the thousands of charities and community organisations that are receiving FareShare support around the UK (including the Midlands).
The FareShare Midlands Food Team continues to work closely with regional food partners to redistribute as much local surplus food as possible. FareShare Midlands is working hard to support our existing network of 550+ Community Food Members and reach over 67,000 vulnerable people every week. Due to the current situation, we are unable to take on any new members at present, but are keeping this under review. While we have taken the difficult decision to consolidate sites, in order for the charity to survive the current cost of living crisis, we are now executing our plan to provide the same level of service to as many of our existing members as we can: Consolidation of FareShare Midlands Sites
At the same time, we also work relentlessly to raise awareness of the current levels of need, always reminding our supporters, partners and the general public of our desperate need for food, donations and volunteers.
To further maximize the social and economic value of surplus food on behalf of our members, we have made significant investments to enable us to move into meal production, using the commercial kitchen at Loxley House in Nottingham. We are unlocking more difficult-to-use surplus food and turning it into delicious meals. Members can offer these complete, pre-cooked and nutritious meals to beneficiaries as part of a regular food parcel, affordable shopping or meal service – saving time and energy spent cooking meals, and costs relating to utilities, staff and ingredients.
As we try our hardest to continue to get as much surplus food to you as we can, we need your support as well. We need you to understand we are striving to unlock further surplus, and do more with the food that we already get. We need you to be as flexible as possible, taking the current supplies we are able to offer and thinking of how you can adapt your services to fit the current circumstances. We need, put simply, for you to do all you can to work with us in partnership.
We need you to:
- Accept catering packs, break them down and share with beneficiaries. See our guidance for Handling Catering Packs on the member portal (or reach out to the Community Development Team for more information).
- For Nottingham and Birmingham members, trial our Community Meals Service, share with members onsite or as part of your food parcel or affordable shopping: Community Meals Service.
- If not already, use some of the food you receive in meals, by trying out our recipes – all made using FareShare Midlands surplus ingredients: Recipes.
- Sign the letter to the Government, asking them to help get more food to your members: FareShare Letter Charity Sign Up.
Hopefully this email shares more insight into the challenges we collectively face, and how the FareShare network is striving every day to secure and redistribute as much surplus as possible. We will continue to communicate with you, and ask that you do all that you can to share these messages widely, and consider whether there are any actions, no matter how small, that your organisation can take, to work together with us and continue to get good-to-eat surplus food to people in need.
CEO, FareShare Midlands