Back on the 7th April this year the Parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee published its Seventh Report under the title of Covid-19 and the issues of security in food supply. The report can be obtained from here. One of its calls was under the title of Food redistribution which was set out under its Conclusions and Recommendations with the subtitle of Food insecurity and it made a total of 12 recommendations which included the 10th one that stated very clearly
Food redistribution helps to provide nutritious food to those who might not otherwise have access to it, as well as minimising waste. We reiterate our recommendation that the Government should provide ongoing funding to FareShare and other charities, so they can continue to redistribute surplus food from the farmgate and across the supply chain to frontline food aid providers. (Paragraph 36)
As it happens there were also important elements included in Paragraph 35 so the two are listed below. However it is also important to take account of the key people on the Committee and also a very clear message that they have included from Victoria Prentis who is the MP for North Oxfordshire and also the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The Committee is Chaired by Neil Parish who is the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton and sadly there is only one MP from the South East Region which is Rosie Duffield from Canterbury who is their Labour MP. Another well known person is Barry Gardiner so let us hope that the two Sussex Labour MPs, Peter Kyle and Lloyd Russell-Moyle along with Caroline Lucas for the Green Party will pay attention to this and respond. The reason that they need to do so and let us hope some of the Sussex Conservative MPs is that despite the nice words from Victoria Prentis, that the Government that she works for published their response on the 18th June and in that they refused to respond to her call and the call from the Committee. Anyway here is the two important paragraphs.
Food aid providers are supported by organisations, such as Fareshare, that redistribute “good quality surplus food to almost 11,000 frontline charities and community groups”. This food largely derives from “surplus food that would otherwise be going to waste”. FareShare has seen a tripling in “the average number of charities applying to receive food” from them, whilst the short-notice of lockdowns can create food surpluses. Lyndsey Boswell, FareShare, CEO told us in May that FareShare had “completed with DEFRA a £1.9 million trial, which concluded on 31 March, on neutralising the cost for British farmers and growers to redistribute surplus food”. The Committee recommended that Defra provided £5 million annually to enable the continuation of the programme, which would provide “53 million meals to those who are struggling, two thirds of which would go to families with children”. The Government response, stated that the FareShare trial “will inform our future programme of work, including into the next spending review period”. It added that “the food surplus redistributed through this grant scheme represents approximately 0.2% of all supply chain food waste and <0.1% of all food waste for the following (post-farm gate)”. However, Victoria Prentis, told us “that the Government takes food waste very seriously” and that she expects “this to be an area in which we continue to work as Government”. Fareshare reiterated its call for the Government to provide £5 million per year to fund its “surplus with Purpose scheme”.
Food redistribution helps to provide nutritious food to those who might not otherwise have access to it, as well as minimising waste. We reiterate our recommendation that the Government should provide ongoing funding to FareShare and other charities, so they can continue to redistribute surplus food from the farmgate and across the supply chain to frontline food aid providers.
My desire to get the decision from the Government reversed has since led to the production of this e-petition which can be found here. If you are interested to know what is in its text:
Provide additional funding for redistributing surplus food
In April the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee called on the Government to provide ongoing funding to redistribute surplus food from the farmgate and across the supply chain to food aid providers. In June the Government said there were no plans for further grants. This should change.
A Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair told the Committee “that the Government takes food waste very seriously” and that she expects “this to be an area in which we continue to work as Government”. We need the Government to provide public funding to enable the many agencies to carry out the work necessary to prevent food waste and improve food security.