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FareShare processes the surplus food it gets from the industry at its 30 regional warehouses before distributing it to charities across the UK

A quarter of a billion meals have been redistributed to charities across the country throughout the coronavirus pandemic, FareShare has said.

The network has redistributed 105,000 tones of surplus food to organisations in need across the UK from 23 March 2020 – when national lockdown measures were first announced by the government – to 24 February this year, when all Covid-19 legal restrictions ended.

This was the equivalent of 250 million meals, FareShare said.

“A quarter of a billion meals is testament to the incredible hard work of every single one of FareShare’s volunteers, members of staff, food partners, donors, business partners and all our supporters, during what was an incredibly challenging time for everyone,” said FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell.

“This milestone was achieved in partnership with the UK voluntary sector, and support from the food industry, as well as the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.

“The charities and community groups who receive our food kept their vital community work on the Covid frontline going, despite facing considerable difficulties and health risks.

“I would like to thank every single individual, food business, funder, volunteer and staff member who helped to support the FareShare network face into the pandemic, when the vulnerable communities who rely on charitable support across the country needed it most.”

Read more: The unfortunate rise of social supermarkets: saving surplus food for those in need

FareShare’s work was catapulted to the limelight during the pandemic due to a campaign led by Manchester United footballer and children’s food poverty activist Marcus Rashford.

Throughout Covid, the group received surplus food from across the food industry as suppliers and retailers faced the uncertainty of foodservice shutdowns, regional lockdowns, changing customer habits and challenging supply chains, and passed it on to a network of nearly 10,500 charities and local community groups in need.

However, Boswell highlighted that, despite the end of restrictions, the demand for surplus food remained “as high as during the pandemic, with that demand exceeding supply”.

FareShare warned the rise in inflation was one of the main factors in the continuing mounting demand for surplus food.

The charity is currently surveying its network of partners to assert the impact of the cost of living crisis and will be releasing the findings later this month.