Some of the UK’s major food suppliers are donating more produce directly to charities to help the needy get their five-a-day, it has been announced.
Sainsbury’s said a scheme trialled last year is now being officially launched on Monday to link its suppliers with food charities.
The launch coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Fareshare food network, founded with homelessness charity Crisis in 1994.
Fareshare supports 1,711 charities and community projects across the UK, including breakfast and after-school clubs and lunch clubs for lonely pensioners.
Sainsbury’s has welcomed the decision by fruit and veg suppliers, including Mack and Thanet Earth, part of Fresca Group, to donate food directly from the field to the scheme.
Sainsbury’s head of sustainability Paul Crewe said: “Sainsbury’s has pioneered retailer food donations for 20 years, including donating food straight from our depots. But we wanted to do even more.
“By linking in our major suppliers we’ve created an entirely new way to help those who are in need, particularly offering more crucial nutrition through fruit and veg.
“This isn’t about donating a few dented cans, this is a huge process that makes sure even more surplus food that’s fit for human consumption throughout our supply chain gets to people who need it.”
Tim Espley, Fresca Fresh Produce’s operations director, said: “By the very nature of our products there will always be a certain amount we can’t pack for a retailer but which is still perfectly edible.
“Instead of sending it for composting or animal feed, we prefer to work with Fareshare where we can.
“It has involved us changing practices in our packing factories and our warehouses but it’s very rewarding to hear feedback from the charity on how valued our products are.
“The run up to Christmas is our busiest period but working together with Fareshare we’ll be donating as much as we can to support their work.”
Mark Varney, director of food for Fareshare, said: “Sainsbury’s has shown strong leadership in its own operation through its food donations, so we’re delighted that they’re encouraging suppliers to do the same.”