A food redistribution charity that teamed up with footballer Marcus Rashford has more than doubled the food it has shared since the first coronavirus lockdown.
FareShare has shared the equivalent of 128.5 million meals in the year since March 23 last year – or four every second and more than double the number in the previous 12 months.
The 23-year-old England footballer partnered with the charity around the start of the first lockdown, concerned that school closures could lead to millions of pupils going hungry.
Donations from Rashford and his fans have since funded the distribution of food equivalent to more than 21 million meals, with two-thirds going to children and families.
FareShare maintain a fully operational service and we will continue to do all we can to provide food to charities and community groups across the UK that are essential lifelines in their local communities for the most vulnerable and at risk. pic.twitter.com/bBX8tUJUrL— FareShare (@FareShareUK) January 5, 2021
The charity has also been supported by the Government and UK retailers who are members of Rashford’s Child Food Poverty Taskforce.
FareShare takes food that cannot be sold in shops, for example due to packaging errors, a short shelf life or surplus stock.
It is given to thousands of organisations across the UK such as homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges and food banks, which distribute meals to struggling families and individuals.
FareShare said it has been supported by UK retailers with “unprecedented” food donations, funding, logistical support and warehouse space, while the Government has provided grants to help it procure food.
Nine in 10 of the charities it helps anticipate demand for food will remain as high as lockdown restrictions ease, with job loss, debt and mental health cited as the three most common reasons for people needing help.
FareShare are doing a phenomenal job and I will continue to provide them with as much support as they needMarcus Rashford
Rashford said: “It has been a real pleasure being on this challenging but rewarding journey with FareShare over the last year.
“The staff, the volunteers and the families I have met have been incredibly supportive and brave with the stories they have shared with me.
“I’ve made no secret of my desire to see the end of hunger and food insecurity, but for the need we have right now, FareShare are doing a phenomenal job and I will continue to provide them with as much support as they need.”
Lindsay Boswell, FareShare chief executive, said Rashford’s “compassion and authenticity” through sharing his personal experiences has made his campaigning so powerful.
He said: “The impact of the Covid crisis has meant that the need for food support has never been greater, particularly among children and families, but with Marcus as our ambassador, and standing shoulder to shoulder with taskforce members, we have never been better placed to step up to the challenge and support communities in need.”
FareShare received two grants from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2020 to help it procure food directly from the food industry in response to the pandemic.
It is calling for the Government to provide sustained funding for its “surplus with purpose” fund, which helps get surplus food, which would otherwise go to waste, from farmers, growers and manufacturers at no additional cost to the supplier.
A Defra spokesman said: “Food waste is one of our biggest environmental challenges. The UK is leading the global effort with a commitment to reduce it by 20% by 2025.
“We commend FareShare and other organisations for their significant efforts in distributing food to vulnerable people across the country, and we are proud to have helped this work through our £29.9 million Covid-19 food charity grants, and our £15 million food waste reduction fund.”