Deptford charity distributing hundreds of thousands of meals after huge increase in demand in lockdown

by Tallulah Taylor

A charity supplying surplus food to hard-up families has more than doubled the number it gave out during the pandemic.

Fareshare, which redistributes edible food that would otherwise have gone to waste, has donated more than 40,000 packs from its Deptford depot to 254 London charities.

These are supplied to food banks, community centers, schools and projects supporting people experiencing homelessness, older people to tackle loneliness and those facing addiction.

This February, they distributed 306 tons of food which is the equivalent of 728,000 meals. This has increased from the previous year of 59.3 tons, the equivalent of 141,000 meals.

According to a survey by the Mayor of London in 2019, almost two million Londoners, of whom an estimated 400,000 were children under the age of 16, struggle to afford or access a sufficient diet.

Across the UK, 8.4 million people at least are struggling to afford to eat at the same time more than 2 million tons of edible food goes to waste each year by the food industry.

Lindsay Boswell, FareShare chief executive, said:“Now more than ever it’s vital to ensure vulnerable people can access nutritious food.”

Christie Garratt, a spokesperson for Fareshare, said that, during the pandemic, many “businesses recognised that it is so easy for people to fall through the cracks and that any of us can. If there is one good thing to come out of the pandemic it is a strong sense of community”.

Anna Taylor from The Food Foundation said: “Millions of families are struggling to put food on the table and the pandemic has made it worse. Our recent survey showed that 25% of children in London said they or their family had visited a food bank over Christmas/January; and 24% of children reported one or more experiences of food insecurity. Tackling food insecurity in the city needs to be a top priority for the GLA.”

Sustain’s London Food Poverty Campaign’s annual report found that local authorities are flooded with unhealthy food donations. Many report being approached by big food and drink companies donating chocolate and sugary drinks.

One London local authority was offered 97,000 Easter eggs which they turned down to protect residents’ health.

The report also said: “In London, income inequality and a lack of access to fresh affordable food are both disproportionately experienced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic Londoners. Black and Asian people are at particularly high risk from Covid-19, as well as from diet related illnesses including diabetes and obesity which further increases risk level from Covid-19. Much needs to be done”.

Lewisham council focussed on health inequalities amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents and Bromley Council sourced specific cultural foods to add to the food parcels distributed by their food hubs.

Morven Oliver-Larkin, from Sustain, said that councils must “pay the London Living Wage and encourage employers throughout the borough to do so, investing in ‘cash first’ approaches like Local Welfare Assistance Schemes, and supporting food partnerships locally”.

He added: “They can also make sure that older, isolated residents can stay safe and well in their homes by investing in robust, well integrated meals on wheels services”.

Fairshare is being supported by Actimel, who are giving their customers the opportunity to back charities by buying a pack of Actimel and unlocking a pack to be donated in their local area.

From now until April 30, for each pack of Actimel purchased you can donate a second to a charity in your local area via FareShare in the UK.

Sarah Dossett, Marketing Director Actimel says: “The strength of British communities was inspiring in the face of such challenges last year.  This year we want to encourage the spirit of community in London by donating to those who need resilience the most. We hope that by working with Fareshare we are able to go some way toward supporting people in all our communities. Each and every one of us has a role to play and as a certified B Corp it’s in our DNA to do our bit.”

To get involved and donate to a local community, pick up a promotional pack of Actimel from all major retailers until 30 April 2021 and register the unique pack code online at



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