In March 2020, nobody could have predicted how the year would pan out, but here we are, one year in and we can see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel as we edge towards the easing of restrictions and returning to life as we knew it.
At FareShare Hull & Humber, we have continued to work throughout the pandemic to save surplus food from waste and redistribute it to charities and community groups across the region. As the announcement of the first UK lockdown loomed, we knew we needed to react quickly in order to save as much food as businesses closed their doors and in one month our intake of surplus food increased by 113 tonnes. We then saw a sharp intake of members asking to increase their tray allowance and adapt their services to provide food parcels to those who were shielding or struggling financially due to loss of employment or furlough. This was followed by new organisations coming forward in areas that we had not yet delivered to, each supporting their community with food parcels. Over the pandemic we signed up 60 new organisations.
Hull City Council set up the community hubs during the first lockdown, and we worked alongside them to deliver food free of charge to the hubs every week alongside our regular deliveries which had almost doubled. The hubs were a lifeline for many people, and we were proud to be able to support them with the additional food. We would not have been able to do this without the support of many food businesses, both national and local who instantly diverted their food to us. We saw an amazing range of stock coming through the doors-food that would not normally be surplus; large joints of meat from carvery restaurants, expensive oils and cooking sauces from local shops, cakes and deserts from bakeries. This was then topped up by donations of long-life ambient products from Tesco, Co-op, DEFRA, HISChurch and many more. The support we received from the food industry has been phenomenal, and sadly very much needed in the city. Hull has always had high cases of deprivation and food poverty, and this has been amplified by the pandemic.
At FareShare Hull & Humber, we have always been a very small team. In March 2020, there were only 6 members of staff, meaning we rely heavily on our volunteers who help us pick, pack and deliver over 170 orders each week.
We could not have achieved what we have over the past 12 months without our volunteers. Many of them have continued to volunteer each week throughout the pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk to support the local community, for which we are very grateful. They do not complain about the increase in workload and come in each day with a smile on their face, helping to keep spirits high. Thanks to funding through WRAP, two of our volunteers were given full time employment as a driver and warehouse assistant to help us continue our work.
The past year has certainly been hard work, but one that the whole of the region has risen to. The relationships between organisations has been fantastic, with everyone chipping in to support each other. 12 months after the start of the pandemic, we are still receiving and redistributing 4 times the amount of food that we were pre-COVID, so the need for the food is still there. This has shown that we can accept and redistribute this huge amount of food and we will continue to do so to support our community. Thank you to everyone who has been involved over the past year. You are all food heroes.
Tonnes of food saved from waste: 1558
Meals redistributed: 3,709,598
Organisations receiving food: 180
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