The move follows news that since 2013, the community retailer has supplied almost 1,300 tonnes – enough to provide over 3,085,000 meals to those in need – by redistributing surplus food through its UK-wide network of nine depots.
Meat, fruit, vegetables, ready meals and chilled items are all passed to FareShare who then allocate it to local charities and community groups so they can provide balanced and nutritious meals.
The volume of Co-op surplus food redistributed from January to November is 435 tonnes, which equates to approximately 1,000,000 meals. With just two weeks to go until the end of the year, the Co-op will redistribute an additional 40 tonnes, which is equivalent to another 100,000 meals – taking the total to 1.1 million.
Over 1,135 charities and community groups have received Co-op food through FareShare this year. They include includes children’s breakfast and after school clubs, youth centres, hostels and supported housing for people suffering from homelessness, community cafes, older people’s services to tackle social isolation, food banks, and family and children’s centres.
Cathryn Higgs, head of food policy at the Co-op, said: “We’re very proud of our partnership with FareShare which has enabled us to provide over three million meals to vulnerable people in just four years. Our long-term ambition is that no food fit for consumption should go to waste and that’s why we are why we are working hard to provide an extra 100,000 meals in the run up to Christmas – a time of year that is so strongly associated with the enjoyment of food. Whilst so many people in the UK still aren’t able to get access to a nutritious cooked-meal we must do whatever is necessary to support the work of FareShare and put an end to unnecessary food waste.”
Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive of FareShare, said: “FareShare is undergoing a period of rapid growth at present, coupled with unprecedented demand for food from the voluntary sector. The food we receive from the Co-op has been critical to our ability to supply thousands more charities on the front line helping those in need. We congratulate the Co-op for providing over three million meals so far and give thanks to all those involved in ensuring this valuable food continues to reach us week in week out.”
In April, the Co-op launched a 60-store trial to redistribute food from its food stores.