Alarm over ‘shocking’ waste of 10,000,000 tonnes of food every year

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A charity helping to feed families experiencing hardship over the festive season wants more done to rescue edible food from the 10 million tonnes wasted every year. 

The Felix Project is delivering van loads of unwanted produce to partner organisations on the frontline who are giving it out to those in need.  

The food redistribution charity is aiming to provide roughly 131,000kgs of supplies to families from north London at a time when there is more surplus but when many of the usual outlets such as schools or foodbanks are closed or have reduced hours. 

The project is delivering to 90 partners, including community organisations, housing associations and schools, between December 23 and January 1. 

Each van delivery is being filled with almost a tonne of food which can feed up to 150 families. 

Yesterday, told how more than 250 tonnes of surplus was thrown away by parliament up to the beginning of December this year, with none of it donated or redistributed. 

The wastage comes in a year when families are facing the biggest squeeze on budgets in generations as the cost of living crisis intensifies.

UK Parliament responded by pointing out it has measures in place to make best use of stocks and none of the refuse went to landfill.  

The report nonetheless prompted an offer from The Felix Project, which delivers frush, nutritious food across London, to help the government direct unwanted supplies to where they are most needed.

Head of food supply Les Golden said: ‘Every year in the UK almost 10 million tonnes of food is wasted, 70% of which could have been eaten.  

‘This is shocking when you consider in London alone almost two million adults – including 400,000 children – live in families who struggle to afford food, a number that is likely to rise as the cost of living crisis deepens.

‘We need to rescue more food and would welcome the chance to work with any organisation. We have had discussion with government in the past and are keen to work with them to ensure their good food is not wasted and more Londoners can be fed from their surplus.’ 

The festive deliveries involve 162 routes and more than 600 volunteers in supplying places which have made special provisions to take in the food.

Rachel Ledwith, the project’s head of community, said: ‘It is a huge logistical operation and a first for The Felix Project.

‘Each of the vans will be very full and will help so many who are struggling to afford to buy food. It is a very worrying time for so many people and we want to be able to do so much more, especially as we expect the cost of living crisis to push more families into poverty, many for the first time.

‘We must be there to deliver more food, but simply cannot meet the need without expanding. That is why we are running our Empty Plate Emergency Appeal, it aims to raise as much as possible so The Felix Project can be there to ensure food that would otherwise have been wasted ends up feeding those in need.’

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The Trussell Trust, a UK-wide network of foodbanks, anticipates record levels of demand from people experiencing food crisis this winter.

An emergency fund appeal has been set up by the charity at the end of a year when, for the first time ever, the branches are giving out more supplies than are being donated.

In November, the Trust’s chief executive told that people were faced with ‘impossible decisions’, such as between keeping their children warm and putting food on the table.

Emma Revie spoke after the network experienced a record period of demand between April and September.

She said: ‘When we look at the busiest six months we have ever had and then look ahead to winter, when people are having to deal with the cost of living and are turning on their heating, I fully anticipate this being our busiest winter ever.’ 

Pressures on households include the average household power bill being due to rise from £2,500 to £3,000 a year in five months’ time. Food inflation hit a record high of 12.4% in November.  

In his first Christmas Day speech, King Charles praised those ‘wonderfully kind people’ who have provided food or given donations as he touched on the role foodbanks and places of worship have played during the crisis.  

He said: ‘Such heartfelt solidarity is the most inspiring expression of loving our neighbour as our self.’ 

The government has said that it has taken a number of measures to reduce food waste, including supporting an annual action week and consumer campaigns delivered by the Waste and Resources Action Programme.

In June, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consulted on the option of mandatory food waste measurement and reporting for large food businesses to be introduced by 2025.

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