Food distribution charity FareShare is calling for more food, funding and volunteers to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The organisation said it anticipates increasing demand for its services during the pandemic, in the event of widespread closures of schools, workplaces and public spaces as people self isolate.

FareShare’s network of 18 partner organisations help provide just under one million meals a week to 11,000 frontline charities and community groups across the UK, including those experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, domestic violence, loneliness as well as families struggling to make ends meet.

Many of the charities FareShare support also provide communal meals which could be forced to close in the event of a lockdown.

The charity is launching an urgent appeal with three key asks:

“Funding: FareShare last year received trial funding from Government to enable the food industry to divert its surplus food to charities at no extra cost. The charity is now calling on Government to accept the lessons from the trial and make available £5 million to support farmers, growers, manufacturers and distributers to safely and quickly divert food to FareShare without incurring additional costs.

'Food: FareShare is also calling on the food industry to step up and divert more surplus food to charities. Research shows that more than 650 million meals worth of surplus food still goes to waste within the supply chain each year – despite being fit for human consumption. Suppliers can visit the FareShare website to divert food:www.fareshare.org.uk/giving-food

Volunteers: FareShare relies on volunteers and anticipates it will need many more people to help in the warehouses, vans and offices to create food orders and deliver them to charity and community partners. Anyone who is able to support those more vulnerable than themselves and would be willing to help should contact their local FareShare via the main FareShare website:www.fareshare.org.uk/volunteer

Lindsay Boswell, FareShare chief executive, said:'The situation around Coronavirus is unprecedented and developing fast, and we are working as a UK-wide network of redistribution organisations to meet the changing needs of local organisations on the ground and ensure we are best prepared for all possible outcomes.

“We continue to work with the food industry to redistribute surplus food and the support of Government Defra funding has helped us unlock over 2,200 tonnes of additional food for charities, including fruit and veg. We hope that government will continue to fund this initiative which has proven effective in diverting large volumes of food to those in need.

“FareShare has capacity to double the volume of food we redistribute but in order to ensure those most vulnerable are protected, we urgently call on Government, the food industry and public to help us step up to this challenge.”