A CHARITY will provide food to community organisations, while reducing edible waste in Whitehill and Bordon, as it begins operating a FareShare scheme.

FareShare “rescues” surplus food, which would otherwise end up in the bin, and redistributes it to charities and community groups working with vulnerable people.

This includes foodbanks, breakfast clubs, lunch clubs for older people, homeless shelters, and projects supporting low-income families and people living with addiction and mental health issues.

A recent presentation at the Forest Community Centre heard how the scheme works and the ways it can benefit local groups.

And now the Bordon-based charity Furniture Helpline will be a host and FareShare partner for East Hampshire.

Matt Wilkinson, operations manager for FareShare Southern Central, explained how it works.

“Charities and community groups join us as ‘community food members’ and pay a small monthly fee based on the volume of food delivered,” he said.

“Considerable savings can be made on their food spend which frees up vital funds which can be redirected into services for clients.

“FareShare UK has been operating since 1994 and has close relationships with leading supermarkets and the food and drink industry which donate in-date surplus food. This includes food that is close to its end of life, supplier overs, food that hasn’t passed quality control but is perfectly safe to eat and misprints on packaging which result in tonnes of food waste.

“From our depot in Southampton, FareShare Southern Central distributes around 10 tonnes of food every week to charities and community groups in Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth.

“We are absolutely delighted that we will be able to increase the area we serve to include vulnerable people living in Bordon and East Hampshire.”

Furniture Helpline will work with FareShare and the charity Southampton City and Region Action to Combat Hardship to distribute the food locally.

Diane Page, Furniture Helpline’s office manager, said that already the charity had received interest from local bodies keen to take advantage of reduced cost produce.

“Our charity, Furniture Helpline, is working with another charity in South-ampton who are acting as a central hub for the Southern Central FareShare area,” she said. “We will take deliveries from that charity and distribute to our community food members.

“We have had interest from local lunch clubs, community centres and foodbanks and are in the process of getting some definite sign-ups to get the process up and running. It is a hugely beneficial scheme as good quality food is available at very competitive prices which enable the small groups to reinvest the savings they make back into their project.”

The charity was recently featured on BBC One’s Hugh’s War on Waste, in which host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall explored how much food ends up in the bin and how high standards, particularly in terms of aesthetics, lead to millions of tonnes of fresh produce going to waste each year.

Charities like FareShare are working hard to bridge the gaps in the supply chain to keep food that is good enough to eat out of landfill, all the while helping people who need it most.

FareShare operates in 20 regions in the UK, across more than 200 towns and cities, providing food to more than 2,000 charities and community projects. In the past 12 months it provided for 16.2 million meals and estimates that every week 158,000 people benefit from FareShare produce.

It also estimates that 3.9m tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK’s supply chain, with 10 per cent of that surplus perfectly fit for human consumption - enough food for 800m meals. FareShare handles approximately two per cent of the surplus food available in the UK.

* Anyone interested in becoming a member should contact Diane Page at Furniture Helpline by e-mailing [email protected].