Ten weeks ago I came across a publication from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee (EFRA) that had called on the Government to fund charities like FareShare. My personal involvement was in the setting up of Sussex FareShare 20 years ago. However other charities that would benefit from this call would potentially be Olio and FeedBack. The EFRA committee is a cross party group that can be found here which is led by Neil Parish who is the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton and it involves ten other MPs of which five are Conservatives, four are Labour and one SNP. The reason that they published the call is that charities such as FareShare, Olio and FeedBack are able to work alongside manufacturers and producers of food across the UK and to collect good quality surplus food that cannot be distributed through commercial businesses or supermarkets. The reasons that these surplus piles of food cannot be retailed is various. In some cases it is the speed with which they need to be moved. In other cases it is because the quality or the style of the food is not approved or welcomed by the existing retail settings. However the food is capable of being transferred to locations where other charities are able to distribute, or cook the food for vulnerable people who do not have funds for food and in some cases they lack meaningful places to live. Sadly the call by EFRA back in early April 2021 for the Government to fund these charities was rejected on the 18th June. This was despite the fact that a Government Minister called Victoria Prentis (in the centre of the bottom row of images) was making very clear statements that indicated she approved of the EFRA call. So back at the end of June I formulated a petition which can be found here and which requires a lot more signatures before the Government, let alone Parliament will be persuaded to look at it. Yesterday when I was publicising the petition I came across a person called Honor Cohen and in her response to sign the petition she kindly pointed out that there is another cross party group in Parliament that is also very keen to ensure that food is being distributed appropriately. The Committee is called the “All-Party Parliamentary Group on Food Waste” and it can be found here. It is made up of a total of 10 politicians of which two are Conservatives, one SNP, one Liberal Democrat, one Green MP (Caroline Lucas who is my MP – bottom right) and five Labour politicians. This group is led by Kerry McCarthy (top left), the Labour MP for Bristol East and one of the two Conservatives is Victoria Prentis who is the Conservative Minister who has endorsed the comments from EFRA calling on the Government to fund charities for redistributing surplus food. The Food Waste group has the priority “To bring together parliamentarians with an interest in this issue; to facilitate informed discussion with policy-makers, the food industry and environmental and food redistribution organisations; to promote policies which will reduce food waste.”
So let us hope that if the petition is endorsed by enough of us, that Kerry McCarthy, Neil Parish, Caroline Lucas and Victoria Prentis all of which can be seen above along with the other seventeen MPs will stand up and demand that the Government releases the funds that the EFRA Committee asked it to do back in April.