In the House of Commons on Friday the Government Minister Jo Churchill responded to two written questions from Conor McGinn who is the Labour MP in St Helens North near Liverpool. Conor is also the Shadow Minister for the Home Office. The questions are a very clear link to this petition which I wrote out back at the end of June and so I hope that the questions will inspire people to sign the petition. The petition and questions relate to a call from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee back in early April for the Government to fund agencies such as FareShare to help redistribute surplus food. Sadly towards the end of June the Government chose to refuse the request and so this petition is an effort to reverse the Governments decision. So far we have nearly 2,800 signatures and currently none in St Helens North so perhaps Conor will be able to encourage his constituency to consider it. Here are the two questions merged together and then followed by the answer which sadly is not dealing with the issue. However the final paragraph explains why EFRA asked the Government to extend this funding. As it happens Jo Churchill is the MP for Bury St Edmunds and so far that constituency has had 5 signatures.
Conor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support national food redistribution charities to (a) tackle food insecurity and (b) prevent surplus food waste. Also for what reason he has not extended his Department’s Food Waste Fund to help charities redistribute surplus food to communities and prevent it going to waste.
Jo: The safe and speedy redistribution of surplus food is a priority, be it from retail, manufacture or the hospitality and food service sector, which all may have their own issues and challenges in their supply chains. Defra supports a range of action to overcome these challenges, reduce food waste and help get more surplus food to charities.
Since 2017 Defra has made a series of grants available to help the redistribution sector. In total nearly £12 million has been awarded to more than 250 large and small redistribution organisations across the country for the provision of, for example, warehousing, vehicles, fridges and freezers that will support the sector for months and years to come.
We continue to support the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the Courtauld 2030 redistribution working group that seeks to overcome barriers to redistribution. The most recent outputs from the group are the publication of new guidance on storing surplus food, best practice on redistributing own brand products and the tool framework for effective redistribution.
We remain committed to the WRAP-led food waste reduction roadmap which supports business to target, measure and specifically act on reducing food waste, for instance by making sure food surplus is redistributed.
The amount of surplus food redistributed in 2020, over 92,000 tonnes, was worth £280 million and was the equivalent of 220 million meals. Since UK-level data was first reported in 2015, overall levels of redistribution have increased three-fold.
Defra delivered a comprehensive package of support for vulnerable individuals to provide additional support for children and families during the winter period 2020/21. This package included £16 million of funding to FareShare to work with local charities across England to provide food for those struggling financially due to the impacts of the pandemic.