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Covid-19 response sees 16 million meals provided to vulnerable

A mammoth effort by Asda, Sainsbury’s and XPO Logistics, with funding from Defra, has enabled the UK’s biggest food charity to distribute an additional 6,732 tonnes of food to vulnerable people through the Covid-19 pandemic – equivalent to 16 million meals.

In response to a threefold increase in demand for food at the peak of the crisis, Defra announced £16m of emergency funding for the charity sector, £10.5m was given to FareShare, which enabled the charity to significantly step up its operation and purchase non-perishable food suitable for food parcels – such as tins, pasta and rice – at cost price from retailers.

Each partner played a vital role in helping FareShare get Defra-funded stock to frontline charities nationwide, with Asda – a major supporter of FareShare – donating warehouse space in Lutterworth, whilst logistics provider XPO Logistics provided in kind support by deploying staff to manage the warehouse operation.

Sainsbury’s also played a key role in funding logistics to transport food from the Lutterworth warehouse onto FareShare’s network of Regional Centres across the country.

More than 4,000 frontline charities and community groups including food banks, homeless shelters and community centres received food purchased using Defra funding – reaching an estimated 596,000 vulnerable families and individuals at risk of hunger in just four months.

“The support of Asda, Sainsbury’s XPO Logistics and Defra at such a critical time has been crucial in enabling FareShare to quickly respond to the crisis and more than triple the amount of food delivered to frontline charities and community groups nationwide,” said Lindsay Boswell, CEO at FareShare. “All partners have made a phenomenal effort to help get good food to those in need and it is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when the commercial and voluntary sectors work together.

“Unfortunately, as we now navigate a second peak and a recession, we are bracing ourselves for unprecedented demand this Christmas. We will continue to work tirelessly to get vital food supplies into communities but in order to sustain food volumes, we encourage any businesses with surplus food to get in touch with FareShare to ensure it gets to those who need it most.”

FareShare is the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, made up of 18 independent organisations which divert surplus food to 11,000 frontline charities and community groups nationwide; including community centres, homeless shelters and foodbanks.

Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the way in which Sainsbury’s, FareShare and the retail industry came together to ensure we were feeding the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During this time, Sainsbury’s donated £3m to help support with the end to end logistics, moving food donated from various organisations to frontline charities, which we know made a huge difference to some of the UK’s most vulnerable families.  We look forward to continuing our work with our long-standing partner FareShare, to support the nation during these unprecedented times.”

As well as donating the warehouse space, Asda has also made a £5m donation split between FareShare and the Trussell Trust, which will continue the work of Fight Hunger Create Change – a partnership between the three organisations that aims to tackle the root causes of poverty.

Kloe Tegg, Asda’s Fight Hunger Create Change manager, said: “We are really proud of our long-term partnership with FareShare, which has only grown in strength whilst supporting the charity through these difficult and unprecedented times. We stand united with FareShare to ensure that more meals can be provided to the most vulnerable, and by supporting them to increase their capacity and access more food, we’re glad to be making a difference where it matters most.

“Our customers and colleagues are really passionate about our Fight Hunger Create Change programme which aims to help tackle poverty across the country, making long term positive change by supporting our charity partners who are working at the heart of our local communities.”

Gavin Williams, managing director, supply chain – UK and Ireland, XPO Logistics said: “We are honoured to continue with FareShare on this journey, and I thank our teams for keeping the supply of essential goods moving for front-line doorstep deliveries. Together we are stronger during this COVID challenge. We especially want to thank FareShare for putting their trust and confidence in us and for showing strength and endurance, along with all partners involved.”

Food Minister Victoria Prentis said: “The extraordinary circumstances of this pandemic saw an unprecedented response from FareShare and other charities, supermarkets and organisations to support our most vulnerable neighbours. Their tireless work, supported by £16m emergency government funding, has been a key part of our pledge to protect the most vulnerable in our fight against the virus with 16 million meals reaching hundreds of thousands of families.”

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