In just four months, charity FareShare South West has distributed 769 tonnes of food to 337 frontline organisations and charities across the South West in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The charity has conducted an impact report into their activity during the pandemic, and found that they operated at five times their pre-crisis capacity between March and July. This equates to distributing enough food to make an incredible two million meals for the most vulnerable people in our region.
CEO of FareShare South West, Julian Mines, says: “Proud does not even begin to cover how I feel about the staff and volunteers who made reacting in the way we have possible. Pre-COVID 8.4 million people in the UK struggled to put food on the table and COVID has seen that vulnerability laid bare and exacerbated. While supermarket shelves seemed empty in March 2020, there were thousands of tonnes of surplus food available due to closure of the hospitality sector and unexpected changes to supply chain algorithms. This along with large scale donations of food from major food companies meant we could dramatically increase our output. While some of our existing charity partners, schools and community groups had to close their operations in March, we received many new enquiries – including from pop-up projects – asking for emergency food support. This included several food banks, who had seen a huge spike in demand and could not maintain supply.
Ensuring our operation could work at these vastly increased levels, almost overnight, was a real logistical challenge and we couldn’t have done it without the support from local businesses, including Ashton Gate Stadium for lending us an entire second warehouse space and generous donations from companies including ALD Automotive, field&flower, Osborne Clarke and Rathbone’s Bristol office.
Our task now is to secure this growth long term. Sadly, the demand for food has not abated as more and more people find themselves out of work. In fact, our partner frontline organisations are reporting that many who have never had to seek food support are now reaching out for help. We are determined to be there, providing food to organisations who are working directly with vulnerable people. These are time critical opportunities to prevent people from falling into even more complex issues relating to poverty, and many of those we supply food to offer vital guidance to support people out of vulnerable situations.”
Food distributed by FareShare South West has supported a range of Bristol initiatives, including Bristol Community Transport’s work providing food parcels to vulnerable elderly people, Caring in Bristol’s Cheers Drive Campaign, and FOOD Clubs by Family Action in deprived areas across the city. It has also enabled food provision to other Bristol charities like One25 to continue.
To read the full impact report, click here.