FareShare Volunteering: Food Waste, Food Poverty and Manchester’s Packed Lunch Day
Did you know that over a quarter of a million tonnes of perfectly good, in date food goes to waste every year in the UK? This is all whilst food poverty has now been described as a public health emergency. The use of foodbanks has increased by 19% in the past year which means organisations like FareShare are crucial in helping to fight hunger and tackle food waste.
FareShare is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to fighting food poverty across the nation. It was founded in 1994 by homeless charity Crisis. The charity then became independent in order to support its growth and expand its remit, meaning that more people who were experiencing food poverty could benefit from the organisation. FareShare is at work in over 1,500 towns across the UK. Their regional centres redistribute surplus food to 21 local charities within their regions. With so much to do FareShare are always looking for volunteers to help in a variety of different roles. From assisting in the warehouse to becoming a social media ambassador. The organisation relies on the help of its volunteers to keep the work flowing. Myself and the WeAreASSIF team decided to head over to the Greater Manchester branch to muck in and do our bit for this amazing organisation.
A typical day volunteering in the warehouse
The day started at 8.30am where we were led into a brief meeting to discuss the work FareShare does and to fill out health and safety forms. Miranda who is Head of Development for the Greater Manchester branch, talked us through their new ‘A packed lunch helps a bunch’ appeal. On the 9th of October, FareShare is asking you to bring a packed lunch to work and ditch your favourite supermarket meal deal. Instead of buying your lunch you can donate the £3.00 you would usually spend to FareShare in order to help them raise the funds to secure a bigger warehouse. The bigger the warehouse means the more food FareShare can get out to those in need, a very worthy cause indeed!
After the meeting we dressed in hi-vis waistcoats and steel toed boots - a health and safety regulation for those working on site. Myself and our Social Media Manager Beth, went out to deliver the donated food with a regular volunteer Dave. During our delivery run we stopped off at a number of local charities, community pantries and schools across Greater Manchester. We also stopped off at Tesco to collect food from the donations box- that's those containers you usually see asking for food bank items such as tins and dried goods.
After two delivery and pick up runs we spent the remainder of the day inside the warehouse ‘picking’. We processed order sheets from local charities who requested lists of food items that FareShare had in stock. The stock all depends on what surplus food has been donated by supermarkets and organisations. Once these orders were picked they were packed onto cages and sent off for the next batch of delivery.
On the Wednesday that we were there we helped to distribute over 3.7 tonnes of food which equates to 8,757 meal portions.Even more impressively because the food went to people rather than an anaerobic digester it helped to save 13.708 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Without FareShare millions of people would go hungry. Last year they donated over 45 million meals to people in the UK, but they really do need your help.
How can I help with the ‘A packed lunch helps a bunch’ appeal?
1. On the 9th October instead of buying your lunch, switch to a packed lunch (or during the week)
2. Take a photograph of your packed lunch
3. Add to Instagram using the handle @faresharegm and on twitter with the handle @FareShareGtrM
4. Use the #mcrPackedLunchDay and #packedlunchhelpsabunch
5. To donate £3.00 the amount of most meal deals, simply Text Meal to 70460 and the number you want to donate (between £1 and £20)
6. Tell your friends and colleagues about the day, and encourage them to do the same, sharing the text call to action on Twitter
To Find out more & participate:
To donate directly: