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FareShare Sussex is backing the #FoodOnPlates campaign to stop millions of tonnes of fresh, unsold food from being wasted, when it could instead go to charities and community groups feeding families. FareShare is campaigning for funding for farmers to get their unsold fresh food to families, instead of having to waste it. Right now, it is cheaper for farmers to waste good-to-eat food than get it to charities getting #FoodOnPlates for those in need. 

We would like to dedicate this blog post to one of our suppliers, the Gleaning Network who is already doing lots to fight for this cause. FareShare Sussex receives food through the Gleaning Network, and we chatted with Rosie, the Regional Coordinator for Gleaning Network in Sussex, about what Gleaning involves, their amazing volunteers and how they adapted during the pandemic.

About the Gleaning Network 

Crops are often wasted due to market standards not being met or slight damage from bad weather. It can also be down to a shortage of pickers or lack of seasonal glut, or when there is an excess of supply within the market as all of the produce is ready at once. This means that often up to 16% of a farmer’s crop is wasted even before it’s on the supermarket shelves. Gleaning is the process of rescuing this surplus food directly from farms and redirecting it to people in need; to fareshare or other similar organizations.

Food heroes during COVID-19

There are thousands of volunteers who come to help pick, stretching out through the national network of Gleaning which Rosie organises a part of, who sometimes travel far to bring food back to their own community groups. During the pandemic, they continued their amazing work with social distancing in place such as Gleaning in smaller numbers. Rosie also had a massive increase in volunteer sign-ups, due to many people being furloughed. She mentioned how restrictions easing has allowed people to lift-share again, a very beneficial and important part of the community as it allows people to get to rural locations.

“Be the solution” 

The surplus is redirected to FareShare to redistribute to people in need and, as Rosie explains, it means the food can reach people more effectively. Rosie also details getting the food out to community food projects to be transformed into meals is best, as most of the produce is suited to being used in cooked ways as it can be cosmetically damaged, hard to store, or comes in large quantities which need to be cooked all at once. She describes “how the scale of food waste is staggering and to be a part of the solution to that is really cool”. It also needs to go hand in hand with other solutions in the long term to prevent the service being required [i.e. tackling poverty and waste drivers]”. 

Thank you so much to Rosie for having a chat with us and to all the amazing Gleaning Network volunteers who keep fuelling our warehouse supplies and feeding those in need!

You can sign up to join their team of volunteers here: https://action.feedbackglobal.org/page/67578/subscribe/1 

Support the #FoodOnPlates campaign by emailing your MP, 

Take action now 👉 bit.ly/foodonplates