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FareShare Leicester

FareShare Leicester helps to feed about 2000 of the most seriously disadvantaged people in Leicestershire, using surplus food from the food industry.


The Project was started in February 2007, by the Director of Social Responsibility for the Diocese of Leicester. It was set up in the knowledge that:

· 4 million people in the UK cannot afford a healthy diet.
· Failed asylum seekers and homeless people in the city desperately needed food.
· The cost of a basket of staple food items is going up all the time and outpacing increases in income.
· One third of all waste going to landfill is from the food sector (approx.17m tonnes p.a.)

The challenge was how to become a delivery partner of FareShare without the funds for staff or premises (http://www.fareshare.org.uk/). FareShare takes good quality surplus food from the food industry that is used for those in need, rather than being sent to landfill. All food is within its use-by date and complies with strict hygiene legislation. FareShare has depots all over the country, all of which depend on volunteers to deliver their service.

After a period as a pilot project, FareShare Leicester began on 1st July 2008.

FareShare Leicester activities

Using volunteer drivers and hired vans, food is collected from the FareShare depots in Birmingham, Bristol and North London. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also collected from the nearest depot of Brakes, the catering wholesaler. Local Sainsbury’s stores allow the groups to collect surplus food each day.

Food is distributed (free of charge) to charitable support groups that meet the FareShare criteria, regardless of religious or other affiliation, weekly on Mondays to 18 groups, with more on the waiting list. In the last year, FareShare Leicester has distributed almost 100 tonnes of good quality food (equivalent to 235,000 meals), to help feed people who are:

- on low or no wages, especially where children or young people are at risk;
- asylum seekers, failed asylum seekers, refugees;
- homeless, or vulnerably housed;
- vulnerable elderly;
- at risk due to mental health problems, learning difficulties, or HIV/AIDS;
- women and children affected by domestic violence.

FareShare Leicester has received two CUF grants, one national and one local, totalling £7,500 to support the work.

The challenge for the future

At present, FareShare Leicester only operates one day a week and has no premises. The aim is to raise sufficient funds to set up a full time depot to serve Leicester, Leicestershire and the East Midlands, distributing over 300 tonnes of food a year to people living at the margins of society.

Bishop Tim, the Bishop of Leicester said, “The gap between the rich and the poor in the UK is now wider than in most western countries in the world except the USA. As the poorest families in deprived areas of our city and county struggle to cope with the rise in the cost of living, FareShare Leicester offers vulnerable people practical support and hope”.

John Willetts