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Fighting child hunger in Bristol through tackling food waste

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Phoebe Ruxton is the Community Fundraising and Communications Manager at FareShare South West. FareShareSouth West take good, in date food which is destined for waste before even reaching a supermarket, and redistribute it to over 170 charities, schools and community groups in Bristol and the South West. In this blog post she talks about their work to tackle child hunger.   

When people first walk into our warehouse in St Jude’s, and see for themselves a pallet load of strawberries, or a delivery of 1,000 chicken wings, they really get the scale of what we do. The first question a visitor asks is almost always “so what’s wrong with it?”. The answer is nothing is wrong with this food – it has lost its retail value for one of a variety of reasons which do not affect the food itself. It could be that the supermarket over-ordered, that the branding changed, or an external factor like the weather, meaning consumers aren’t going to buy the stocks of burger buns that are ready and waiting. If it didn’t go to us, it would be destined for waste. We only access a tiny proportion of the surplus out there, and in fact we are often able to choose what we want, meaning we get the most useful foods for the organisations we support.

No child should go hungry

This year, FareShare South West (FSSW) along with partners such as the Feeding Bristol initiative have started working with local projects in a much more targeted way, identifying areas where food is most needed. One of the most pressing needs is child hunger in Bristol. Increasingly, school staff report children arriving at school hungry, tired and unable to learn.

Back in March 2018, we launched our Breakfast Club programme, which saw 15 Bristol schools with the highest levels of deprivation receive FSSW food. Schools which were previously only able to provide a limited service, such as cornflakes or toast, started receiving weekly deliveries of everything from fresh fruit to yoghurts, and from cereals to smoothies.

“In here they’re all having breakfast and it makes my life easier. Before I struggled with them, now we just get up at 8am and come. We can’t provide them with a balanced diet at home, but here we can.” –Arifa Akhter, mother of Ayaan and Arisha at Millpond Primary Breakfast Club (pictured)

Tackling holiday hunger

This summer, we have launched our ActiveAte programme, to address Holiday Hunger – the issue of the children who normally receive food at school being at risk of hunger during the holidays, when parents can struggle to make ends meet. Working with local front-line organisations across Bristol and the South West, such as Youth Moves and Young Bristol, we are delivering food to over 30 projects, enabling them to provide a nutritious meal to children most in need.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “We know that the summer holidays can be a particularly difficult time, so the ActiveAte programme will be a lifeline for some. No child should be going hungry, so alongside addressing families’ immediate needs we are working with Feeding Bristol to identify long term solutions to this problem. We need to build on examples such as this which show what can be achieved by working together.”

Throughout the summer, extra food will be sourced, dedicated FSSW volunteers will pick food orders, and additional volunteer drivers will deliver the food to organisations and projects. An estimated 14,000 additional meals will be served to around 2,000 children this summer.

We are asking for the support of the city to do this. Our ActiveAte appeal campaign is asking for donations from the public to help us in our goal. We can do a lot with a little at FareShare- just £12 is enough for us to provide a hot lunch for one child for the entire summer.

To donate to the ActiveAte appeal, visit FareShare South West’s JustGiving page here. Every bit counts – every £1 helps us provide four meals for children in need.

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