County Council Invests £200,000 to Tackle Food Poverty

Volunteer community groups, that help individuals and families experiencing hardship, are being invited to participate in a scheme aimed at tackling food poverty, thanks to a two year investment of £200,000 from Hampshire County Council to launch FareShare in Hampshire.

As part of the County Council’s Local Welfare Assistance Strategy, the Council has partnered with anti-poverty charity SCRATCH (Southampton City and Region Action to Combat Hardship) to set up new collection points for FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, providing nearly 8,000 tonnes of good surplus food to over 2,000 charities across the UK.

Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, commented: “I am very excited about this initiative. Food poverty is one of three identified main areas of crisis, along with fuel and furniture poverty. It seems such an obvious idea to put to good use food that would otherwise be wasted. It is also an environmentally friendly solution, making a contribution towards reducing the amount of waste that needs disposing of. With our partners – SCRATCH – we are aiming to set up six distribution points across the county, where community groups will be able to collect FareShare food boxes and cook nutritious meals for a fraction of the usual purchase price.”

FareShare works closely with the leading supermarkets and food manufacturers to ensure that any food that is surplus to requirements and is safe to eat gets to those experiencing or at risk of food poverty. This includes: supplier over orders; food coming close to the end of its life or food that has not passed quality control yet is still perfectly safe for human consumption: and items where there are mistakes on the packaging such as spelling errors or incorrect weights given.

Community groups and charities that operate lunch clubs for older people or provide meals to the homeless and low income families will be able to get a wide range of fresh produce for a monthly membership fee.

This initiative will strengthen the local offer of support to residents facing hardship. By closely aligning providers of furniture reuse as key distribution points for FareShare, it is hoped that groups and charities working with vulnerable residents will be able to support them better to overcome crisis with dignity and independence, by helping them to understand the support that is already available to them.

Matthew Wilkinson, Operations Manager at FareShare, said: “We are delighted that the County Council is making this investment. It will mean that organisations we support, such as breakfast clubs, lunch clubs for older people, women’s refuges and hostels, that provide life changing support as well as a hot meal, will make savings on their food spend and help the environment too.”

For more information on becoming a FareShare Community Food Member, email fareshare@scratchcharity.co.uk or amy.brown@hants.gov.uk

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