The government has announced up to £16 million to provide food for those who are struggling as a result of coronavirus.
The programme will provide millions of meals over the next 12 weeks and be delivered through charities including FareShare and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme).
At least 5,000 frontline charities and community groups in England will benefit, including refuges, homeless shelters and rehabilitation services.
It will cover rural areas as well as cities, targeting those who are struggling to get food.
Both WRAP and FareShare have well-established networks for funding local charities and delivering food, ensuring support can get to where it is needed as quickly as possible. Part of the fund will also be available for smaller food distribution charities.
These supplies will be in addition to those already donated by supermarkets, hospitality businesses, wholesalers, smaller retailers, suppliers and manufacturers who have been working collectively, co-ordinated by the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD).
This will enable us to continue to supply much-needed food and drink to the many thousands of frontline charities and community groups across England that are doing the humbling work of getting meals to very vulnerable people during this crisis
The funding is part of the £750 million pot announced by the Chancellor for frontline charities across the UK during the coronavirus outbreak.
Lindsay Boswell, CEO of Fareshare said: “We welcome this support from Defra to obtain vital food supplies, on top of the generosity already shown by the UK food industry.
“This will enable us to continue to supply much-needed food and drink to the many thousands of frontline charities and community groups across England that are doing the humbling work of getting meals to very vulnerable people during this crisis.
“We want to make clear that this funding will only be used for the procurement of food and drink and that our own running costs are funded through other gratefully received charitable donations.
“We have seen the generosity of the food industry who have stepped up to donate food and logistical support to help us do this, and government has now come in to play its part alongside.
“If businesses or local authorities wish to join our efforts in the fight against hunger and food waste, be they in food, logistics or have fleets, we urge them to get in touch with us today.”
Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP, said: “We’ve worked with Defra to create a grant scheme of support for the many organisations across England who are feeding the most vulnerable among us.
“In only two weeks we’ve received a huge response and are finalising the first batch of applications. This additional funding will be used to expand that essential work with support for the very smallest, to the largest charities and enable them to support many more people at this difficult time.”