Redistribution charity wins 2022 Environment and Conservation Charity award for initiative that redistributes unsold but good-to-eat surplus produce from farms
FareShare’s pioneering Surplus with Purpose scheme has been recognised with a Charity Award for its environmental benefit.
The project was awarded the 2022 Environment and Conservation Charity award at a ceremony on 16 June. It helps redistribute unsold but good-to-eat surplus produce from farms to people who need it most, rather than letting it go to waste.
The extra costs involved in picking, packing and transporting their surplus mean it is often cheaper for famers and growers to let unwanted surplus produce rot in the ground, to use it for biofuel, or to send it to landfill.
Surplus with Purpose helps cover those extra costs to help get that surplus produce to people. The scheme was set up by FareShare in 2019, with a one-off government grant of £1.9m, and has been continued through other funding.
The scheme now accounts for a majority of all the food FareShare redistributes to its network of nearly 10,000 charities across the UK. In 2021-22, FareShare redistributed nearly 130 million meals, which equates to four meals every second.
FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell said: “Given the choice, we know that farmers and growers would much rather get their unsold surplus food to people, rather than see it go to waste. But there’s still more than two million tonnes of edible produce thrown away in the UK each year. And that’s happening at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is meaning more families than ever before are struggling to get enough to eat.
“Despite the obvious need, the government isn’t currently funding food redistribution in the UK. If it did, we could get so much more of that unsold nutritious food to people who need it most.”
The Charity Awards is Civil Society Media’s annual awards programme, held to identify, recognise and reward those organisations doing exceptional work in all areas of charitable activity.
Commenting on FareShare’s Surplus with Purpose scheme, Charity Awards judge Ruth Davison said: “There is a really strong triple bottom line here: they’re saving food waste, they’re supporting local charities, and they’re influencing corporate behaviour. So that felt like three sets of impact out of one initiative.”
Judge Sarah Ellis added that the initiative was “grassroots up, entrepreneurial, innovative, and making change at different layers across the sector. It punched above its weight.”