FareShare has been handed a £16 million government grant to help tackle food poverty in England through the Covid winter.

The Defra Winter Support programme forms part of the wider government winter support package and is designed to help those who are vulnerable and disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 to access healthy and nutritious food through frontline charities throughout the winter, starting this week.

At least 4,000 frontline charities, not-for-profit organisations and community groups in England will benefit according to Defra, including refuges, homeless shelters and rehabilitation services. It will cover rural areas as well as cities, targeting those who are struggling to get food. The programme aims to provide over 7,600 tonnes of food over the winter months.

Food minister Victoria Prentis said: 'During this difficult winter period, our frontline charities are providing vital support to the most vulnerable members of our communities. Alongside the wider government support package, this grant will make a real difference to people across England. It will enable FareShare and their partner organisations to provide millions of meals for those who need them most.'

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, added: 'The FareShare network has been running a full-time operation throughout the Covid-19 crisis, to get food to our most vulnerable communities. In England alone we have delivered food equivalent to over 57m meals since 23 March.

'We welcome the government’s further financial support on behalf of the 4,000-plus charities we provide food to in England, who in turn created over 3m meals a week to help their clients at the height of the first lockdown. Both through this winter, and through the undoubtedly tough economic conditions set to impact the country this coming year, it is vital that we all work together to get help to those most in need.'