Call for action tackling ‘travesty’ of waste food

HULL politician Karl Turner has called for action after a report revealed up to half the world’s food is thrown away.

The report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) suggests poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer fussiness is leading to a mountain of food being thrown out.

Mr Turner, MP for Hull East, said it was a “travesty” so much food was being wasted “given that so many people are going without meals”.

Now, he is backing a call by charity FareShare for the food industry to divert surplus food for distribution to people in need.

FareShare works with more than 700 grassroots charities to help people in need.

The Labour MP, who is a FareShare patron in Hull, said the charity played a “critical role” in addressing food poverty by making use of “surplus food fit for human consumption”.

He said: “MPs, councillors and community leaders should be showing leadership on this issue and work with FareShare, community groups and the food industry to alleviate levels of food poverty.

“Food businesses should also recognise the role they can play in alleviating food poverty by working with FareShare to distribute surplus food to those in need.”

There has been a six-fold increase in the use of food banks – distributing food to families on low incomes – over the past three years, sparking widespread concern.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister was repeatedly pressed about the problem by MPs during Question Time in Parliament.

FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: “Last year, we redistributed 3,600 tonnes of surplus food that helped feed 36,500 people in need every day. But we have a mountain to climb.

“The demand for our services has grown dramatically, 59 per cent in the past 12 months, and we estimate that we handle less than 0.1 per cent of the surplus food available.

“We desperately need more responsible food companies to work with us. If just one per cent of the surplus food in the UK was given to FareShare, we could provide 70 million meals for people in need.”

According to the IME report Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not, as much as half the world’s food, two billion tonnes, is wasted.

The study claimed up to 30 per cent of vegetables in the UK were not harvested because of their physical appearance, while half the food bought in Europe was simply thrown away.

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FareShare charity ensuring no one has to go without food this festive season

HUNGRY people queue outside food banks in Hull every week hoping to get a hot bowl of soup or a pasta dish to get them through the day.

National charity FareShare has been running operations in the city for the past year and already has 60 community food members who receive meals through the scheme to distribute to the needy and vulnerable.

Food poverty has been associated with developing countries in the past but the harsh reality in Britain is that more people are going hungry as they struggle to make their money stretch.

The city’s MPs, councillors and leading business people met to find out more about the FareShare initiative at the charity’s Malmo Park depot.

JJ Tatten, of the Goodwin Development Trust, which operates FareShare in Hull, said: “The amount of parents skipping meals to feed their children is astonishing.

“The worst thing is there is such a stigma attached to this sort of thing there are probably even more people struggling than we think.

“There are about 30 more community food members wanting to get involved, we just haven’t had enough food coming in to meet the demand, but that is changing.”

According to the Save The Children charity, one in four parents has missed a meal in the past year in order to feed their children.

The figures claim poverty – going without food, new clothes, and struggling to pay for fuel and rent – affects a quarter of all young people.

East Hull MP Karl Turner called the situation “terrible” and has been involved in collecting FareShare goods at a Sainsbury’s store in Hessle.

He said: “The scheme is brilliant and the Goodwin Trust have managed to get stakeholders really involved and interested in this.

“It’s hard to say no to them.

“The people who have donated through FareShare events are also very generous and they don’t just leave you with a tin of baked beans, they fill their basket and spend at least £5.

“Food banks aren’t just for Christmas. We need to get more people involved in the FareShare scheme to help people who are seriously struggling.”

MP for Hull West and Hessle, Alan Johnson, said people on JobSeeker’s Allowance are finding it difficult to make their money last seven days and rising food prices is one reason they are turning to handouts from charities.

He said: “Supporting initiatives like this is crucial and we come across this problem time and time again.

“I applaud the businesses who are involved in FareShare.”

The William Jackson Food Group in Hull is one of a number of companies donating food to disadvantaged people in the city.

David Garbutt, head of procurement at Aunt Bessies, which is part of the food group, said: “Our work with the charity is gaining momentum and we supply bread from Jackson’s Bakery as and when it is requested. There is a stream of food we could send in the direction of FareShare and we are also looking at sending over apple pies.

“We want to help the community in which we work in and this is one way of doing our bit.”

Cargill, an international marketer of food, also supports the charity in many ways including volunteer support and sharing expertise in logistics and health and safety.

Chrissy Sheppard, volunteer co-ordinator at the Goodwin Development Trust, said there are about 28 people helping to send food to organisations in the city.

She said: “They do everything from driving to admin.

“We’ve had quite a few people find permanent work after volunteering for FareShare. We are looking for more volunteers as well as more people to come on board and donate food to the charity.”

Pat Doyle, chairman of Emmaus Hull, volunteers at St Charles Church drop-in and gave a humbling account of his experiences with the homeless and families in need.

He said: “We are supported by FareShare and offer out pasta, rice, sandwiches and soup at two drop-in sessions a week.

“On a Tuesday, it is always busier than a Friday because people are struggling after their benefits have ran out.

“We have about 80 people in some days and the most we have had is 93.

“Last week, we had about 60 people queuing up outside for us opening up at 10am.

“It’s awful to see and we’ve even had three pregnant girls in.

“Some of the young men are so hungry, they eat about six bowls of soup.

“These people really benefit from FareShare’s donations and we are not here to judge, we just want to help them regardless of their circumstances.

“Recently, one lad asked for a razor and some cleaning products at the drop-in and while he was having a shave, he told me: ‘One thing that will never be taken away from me is my self respect’.”

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