MY EXPERIENCE AT FARESHARE

Ok, so this is not cooking or growing but it is food related, and I thought some readers may find it interesting enough to perhaps spare a few hours each week to volunteer at their nearest depot.
Food poverty & Food Waste are subjects close to my heart, and this organization does its best to deal with both issues by bringing them both together.

17/10/12 – this was the day of my first visit to FareShare.  Hidden away on a minor industrial estate, it is very easy to miss.  I drove past it first time, then after turning around I entered through a gate marked Exit Only.  Watching out carefully for any vehicle coming the other way I made my way to the depot.  I needn’t have worried as there was no traffic around.  After parking I made my way inside and found the office.  I was introduced to Charlene and explained that I would like to volunteer.  She gave me a whistle-stop tour, as she was expecting someone else (she thought that I was the expected visitor at first).
I discovered there had been a break in the night before.
I also found that there had recently been a large collection through Sainsbury Supermarket and there were enormous pallets full of donated food items.  It seemed to be mostly pasta and rice, jars of pasta sauce and curry sauce, tea and coffee, and tins of fruit and custard and rice pudding.  These all needed to be sorted and moved around.
I was introduced to Chelsea, a young lady who also volunteered.  Together we sorted jars of coffee and packets of tea into trays ready to go onto the bank of shelving which contains assorted foodstuffs.  Then we sorted cans of fruit and custard in a similar way.  Chelsea told me that the day before there had been interviews for a job and everyone was very excited and nervous about whom had got the job, they would find out later on that afternoon.
During our coffee break I met some of the other volunteers.  Paul, Alan, John, and a chap from Lithuania whose name I didn’t find out. Others came and went during the day, and I didn’t get everyone’s name. Everyone was chatty and friendly and I felt very welcome.
I discovered that Sainsbury charge FareShare 90p per pallet per day to store the donated food and that they increase the cost by 1p on each of the items that are being collected.  I thought that is really poor gameplay of Sainsbury.
During the day we continued sorting the pallets of donated food, I saw vans being loaded and going off to do their deliveries.
Later in the afternoon the volunteers who had interviewed for the job were called to the office to find out if they had been successful.  Neither Chelsea nor John had got the job unfortunately.  They were obviously disappointed although they hid this well, but Chelsea was very quiet and John was overly jolly.  They had been given feedback on their interviews and were obviously giving this a lot of thought; so that next time an interview came up they could do better.
At one of our breaks Charlene came and asked if Chelsea and I would be interested in doing a food hygiene course.  I remembered the advice my grandma had given me – never turn down any opportunities that come your way – so I agreed, even though I was very surprised that I would be considered having just started that day.
Chelsea told me that there were courses offered at different times for a variety of things; for instance she is due to do some fork-lift training, and Charlene told me there would be opportunity for health & safety training and other things like this.

At the end of the day everyone did a bit of a clean-up, and then it was time to go home.

WHAT IS FARESHARE

FareShare is a national UK charity supporting communities to relieve food poverty. FareShare is at the centre of two of the most urgent issues that face the UK: food poverty and food waste.

The charity addresses these issues in three ways:

  1. Providing quality food – surplus ‘fit for purpose’ product from the food and drink industry – to organizations working with disadvantaged people in the community
  2. Providing training and education around the essential life skills of safe food preparation and nutrition, and warehouse employability training through FareShare’s Eat Well Live Well programme
  3. Promoting the message that ‘No Good Food Should Be Wasted’

FareShare has been operating since 2004 as an independent charity and today has 17 locations around the UK. Established in 1994 as a project within the homelessness charity Crisis, FareShare aims to help vulnerable groups, whether they are homeless, elderly, children, or other groups in food poverty within our communities.

FareShare Helps Improve Lives:

  • In 2011/12, the food redistributed by FareShare contributed towards more than 8.6 million meals
  • The FareShare Community Food Network has 720 Community Members across the UK receiving food, training and advice
  • Every day an average of 36,500 people benefit from the service FareShare provides

As well as redistributing food, FareShare provides a programme of education and vocational training opportunities – the Eat Well, Live Well programme.

FareShare Helps The Environment:

  • The redistribution of food by FareShare minimises surplus food going to landfill
  • This redistribution of food helped businesses reduce CO2 emissions by 1,800 tonnes in 2011/12.

FareShare’s Vision:

FareShare is embarking on a vision that will see the charity more than triple its impact.
FareShare aims to:

  • Redistribute 20,000 tonnes of food per year
  • Every day, support 100,000 vulnerable people through food provision, as well as provide training and education through our Eat Well Live Well programme
  • Offer 6,000 volunteer opportunities
  • Provide nutritious food to 2,200 community organisations and charities.
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