Food redistribution organisations across England will benefit from £3.25 million of government funding to help them cut food waste and redistribute up to 14,000 tonnes of surplus stock during the coronavirus outbreak.
From overcoming operational barriers in obtaining, storing, and transporting food safely from restaurants as they close in response to coronavirus, to supporting drops in volunteer numbers, grants will be available to redistributors working hard to ensure valuable food supplies do not go to waste.
All food redistribution businesses and charities are encouraged to bid for grants over the coming month, including those whose volunteer programmes have been affected by social distancing measures or those that can’t access their usual commercial support network.
This funding comes as the government continues to engage with the food industry to ensure the nation is fed, and people across the UK are supported in getting the food and groceries they need.
This funding will support people in need while ensuring that we minimise the amount of food which goes to waste – benefiting both society and the environment
It comes at a time when many people are panic-buying groceries at supermarkets, which inevitably means that excess food goes to waste when it can’t be consumed by the use by date.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “I am proud of the many organisations across the UK working to ensure food and supplies are provided to those who need it most need during this challenging time.
“This funding will support people in need while ensuring that we minimise the amount of food which goes to waste – benefiting both society and the environment.”
Food Waste Champion Ben Elliot said: “Now more than ever, it is of paramount importance that we ensure good food does not go to waste.
“This money will support food redistribution organisations to continue their pivotal work in delivering food to those who need it.”
The Defra-funded grant scheme will be managed by sustainability not-for-profit WRAP, which works closely with governments, businesses, and redistribution organisations to minimise food waste.
Chief Executive of WRAP Marcus Gover said: “It is critical in these unprecedented times that we maximise the amount of surplus food redistributed.
“These grants offer crucial financial support to redistribution organisations, where it will have the most impact. We know from managing redistribution funds that this money will make a huge difference to many people.”
Today’s funding is the latest in a series of government grants to help tackle food waste, with last year’s Food Waste Reduction Fund ensuring nearly 2,000 tonnes of surplus food did not go to waste.
Over the past two weeks we have doubled the amount of food we redistribute, as many tonnes of food goes spare from businesses closing and people change their shopping habits
Rene Meijer, CEO of Sheffield based food redistribution organisation The Food Works said: “Over the past two weeks we have doubled the amount of food we redistribute, as many tonnes of food goes spare from businesses closing and people change their shopping habits.
“Surplus food redistribution is all about providing resilience to the community, and at a time like this we need resilience more than ever to ensure good food does not go to waste and reaches those who need it.”
The grant is funded by Defra, part of which comes from the £15 million food waste fund opened in 2019.
£2.5m is remaining from the £15m fund and an additional £750,000 has been reprioritised from within the department.
Application windows for the fund will be split in to three phases. For more information, click here.