MORE than 290,000 meals have been prepared for vulnerable people in our area using supermarket food that was going to be thrown in the bin.
The figures came to light after Hampshire-based charity FareShare carried out an annual impact review of the food it saved over the past year.
It saves in-date food such as meat and vegetables declared surplus to supermarket requirement because of packaging errors or short shelf lives.
The food is then counted and sent on to school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks and hospices.
Good causes in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport, Havant, Waterlooville and Hayling Island have all received food from the charity over the year.
Darren McKenna is an organiser and volunteer for the PO9 Food Bank based at St Francis Church in Leigh Park.
‘I think its a fantastic programme,' he said.
‘Schools which subscribe to FareShare’s work provide us with fresh and nutritious food, which is another option to give families on a weekly basis.’
Phillip Rutt, chairman of the Fareham and Gosport Basics Bank, said the scheme paved the way for an agreement to save fresh fruit and vegetables from a supermarket local to the food bank's base at Aspect House.
‘It's nice to have,' he said.
‘They’ve helped us broker a back of store arrangement with Waitrose.’
A network of 22 organisations in Portsmouth regularly receive food from FareShare to feed an estimated 2,354 people.
These projects received more than 49.1 tonnes of surplus food over the past year – enough to provide almost 117,000 meals.
At least 18 more charities and community groups in the wider Portsmouth area received more than 70 tonnes of food in that time.
In total, all these contributions saved benefiting charities an estimated £205,979.
FareShare southern central development manager, Claire Martin, said: ‘Times are tough for charities, with local authority cuts continuing to bite.
‘The food we redistribute is great quality and tastes just like the food you’d eat at home.
‘It’s amazing that we can take something that could been thrown away and turn it into something that creates enormous social benefit.’