A CHARITY which distributes surplus food to people in need has celebrated its fifth anniversary.
FareShare Southern Central, which has a base at Calmore industrial estate, is part of the UK’s largest charity to fight hunger and food waste.
The organisation works in 1,500 towns and cities all over the UK. Its regional centres redistribute food to local charities across 21 regions while the Fare Share Go service connects charities directly with food from local supermarkets.
The southern central branch has operated since April 2014 and provides good quality produce to support breakfast clubs, food banks, lunch clubs for older people, night shelters, day centres, community cafes and projects supporting vulnerable people.
It has saved over 2,482 tonnes of food from being wasted, which equates to 5.9-million meals for people in need.
Hosting a celebration event at the premises, FareShare’s head of food and network development, Mark Varney, thanked staff, volunteers and supporters for helping to reach the milestone anniversary.
He added: “It’s a shame we are needed but one in eight people in the UK struggle to eat. One in five charities say they would struggle to continue to provide services without FareShare.
“I’ve seen personally what a difference it makes and I’m incredibly proud. It’s also an environmental solution as well.”
Regional development manager Claire Martin told guests how minimal donations were when she first started in 2014.
“Now I look at all we have and think ‘amazing’”, she said. “Unfortunately a lot of charities in our area need support and we are fortunate that we can give that support. I can’t thank you all enough.”
Originally based in Southampton, the charity moved to the larger Calmore premises in December 2017 thanks to donations from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, Global Foodbanking Network and Morrisons Foundation.
Morrisons in Totton has supported the charity with a new chiller, freezer and equipment, in addition to surplus food, while the cost of the new warehouse was funded by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
The company’s regional director Paul Smith explained that its founder Jack Taylor, who died in 2016, had set up the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation to give back to communities.
Before he passed away aged 94, he specified that he wanted his foundation to help fight hunger.
Mr Smith described the work of FareShare as “phenomenal” and explained how Enterprise staff are encouraged to volunteer to get a better understanding of what the charity does.
The gathering also heard from Jackie Warren from Growing Places, a Hampshire-based charity which offers childcare provision as well as after school and holiday clubs to those in more vulnerable areas.
She said: “Our food bills used to be astronomical and we were struggling to maintain it. Since partnering with FareShare we’ve managed to cut our bills by about 50%, which has enabled us to put on workshops for parents to learn how to cook. We’re very grateful.”