Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Food-share database to end supermarket waste: Stores boost links with charities to help the hungry

From Daily Mail - Supermarkets and sandwich chains could soon share surplus food with families struggling in the economic downturn.
Under a proposal backed by the Government, retailers would log details of products approaching the end of their shelf-life on a database.

Charities, who are increasingly working with families who cannot afford to feed themselves, would use the information to arrange pick-ups of food and other unsold products set aside during the week by stores.
Charities would then put together parcels or cook meals using the surplus food and distribute it to the needy.
Tackling food poverty: The scheme would help families who cannot afford to feed themselves as well as cutting down on food wastage
Tackling food poverty: The scheme would help families who cannot afford to feed themselves as well as cutting down on food wastage
Britain has seen an explosion in demand for food banks and food parcels amid the biggest squeeze on living standards in 60 years. 

The Government is putting pressure on food giants to back the scheme, which is designed to both cut food waste and help those in need. ...

‘Charities and retailers are already working together to make great use of surplus food and I’m hosting the roundtable today to look at new ways to make the system work even better.’ 

FareShare collects surplus from the food and drink industry and redistributes it to around 700 charities including the Salvation Army and homeless shelters.
The nation’s biggest stores, including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s Morrisons, the Co-op, M&S and Boots, will take part. Charities FareShare and FoodCycle, which were set up to tackle food poverty, will also be present.

The charities it supplies are also increasingly working with families living in food poverty.
The group wants supermarkets to provide food at each of its 18 outlets which would be picked up on a rota basis by local charities.

FoodCycle has called for the creation of a database so that food can be shared more effectively. 
The charity uses professional kitchens to produce free meals in 14 locations across the country and is currently in partnership with Sainsbury’s and  Waitrose, as well as smaller grocers and markets. 
Other retailers have been reluctant to back its work because they are worried about being sued if people fall ill as a result of eating surplus food.

The charities are supporting the introduction of a so-called Good Samaritan law which exists in the US, and ensures firms providing food in good faith are exempt from legal action.

The British Retail Consortium said its members already give excess food to charities but said discussions on improving communication between charities and retailers will be held.

It said the scheme should apply to all food retailers and could involve sandwich chains.
It comes as Waitrose announced  a commitment to donate surplus food from all branches to charities by the end of this year.

In the future, making donations to charities will be its preferred option for any unsold food that is still fit for consumption.

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