In a break from my usual blogs, this is in an attempt to help illuminate a conversation that began this evening on twitter. Forgive me for beginning with some history which explains why I am such a know it all.
FareShare began as a scheme in the early 1990’s in London as a response to food waste and Crisis Homeless Shelters in London, it was originally known as Crisis FareShare and it was intended to feed homeless people. A second scheme was set up in Southampton and Brighton was seen as a suitable subsequent location. Simon Fanshawe was linked to some early conversations which sadly did not lead to a local scheme being established.
Separately in 1994/5 City Gate Church was involved in distributing beef from the EU beef mountain. As the enormity of EU food supplies dawned on a young(er) Ian Chisnall he met David Moore (then Manager of Lewes Road Sainsbury’s) who showed him yet another source of surplus food. The two men along with Father Vickery House of St Bartholomews Church then hatched the concept of a food distribution scheme. We discovered the FareShare model and over the next few years a project manager was appointed, funding found and premises sought. The Brighton & Hove franchise was established in June 2002 so happy 10th Birthday B&H FareShare – yay!
At present we distribute over 250 tonnes of food a year and could easily cope with much more food with the Brighton infrastructure. The Barrier to obtaining more food is partly a matter of campaigning. Clearly Emmas suggestion regarding twitter might help, although the campaigning has to be handled sensitively. Too much aggravation and firms could easily do what M&S did a few years ago and invest in anerobic digestion (effectively turning good food into fuel). This is far less useful but avoids the need for companies to sort the in date food from the food that really does need to be destroyed so it has some commercial attractions. At that time M&S were supplying us with some 70 tonnes of food from their Faversham depot.
Some of the Supermarkets are very good a reducing food waste down to such low levels that there is not enough waste each day to justify it being collected in the vans needed to ensure that the audit trail and food hygiene regulations are met (This is probably the true story behind the tweet from Jonathan Tilley – Waitrose are ruthlessly efficient with their waste).
Another barrier is that we are currently part of a national network of 17 schemes which sounds grand but it does not present the comprehensive geographical spread that some food retailers need to see before they will throw their lot in. Getting new schemes established takes time for a variety of reasons.
Campaigning is going on at a national level – check this out – but it is long slow work, much of it has been done through our scheme with Nancy Platts getting Hilary Benn to take it seriously when Labour was in power. Since then there has been some Coalition interest following lobbying by our London based network hub, but also with Caroline Lucas (hence the photo above).
The change from Crisis-FareShare to Fareshare which occured about 2004 freed the schemes to be more open with the charities they work with. Assuming there is some food spare, school food clubs can certainly be supplied providing they qualify and pass the environmental health checks (in the same way as we supply food to St Peters). However this is very much a wholesale model of supply. FareShare is not set up to distribute to individuals. It only works with charities and similar organisations. In Sussex (mostly Brighton & Hove) we distribute to around 50 charities or projects.
I suggest that Emma, Phil, Hannah, Jonathan and anyone else interested in the school food scheme arrange to see what we do in Moulsecoomb at our depot and find out what capacity there might be to supply some new schemes (I know that we are never left with food going spare!). The link above gives the website and hence the contact details.