Asda joins the fight to end uk hunger

We talk to Samantha Lane, Head of Fundraising for The Trussell Trust, about how the new three-year Asda Fight Hunger Create Change programme will help to tackle food poverty.

Can you start by telling us how this came about?

About a year ago we got a call from Asda asking how they could help us do more to tackle hunger. They’ve been supportive of our work for a long time, but they’d been looking into the issues in depth and were shocked to learn that over 8million people in the UK struggle to afford to eat.

Asda wanted to help foodbanks to do more – both in emergency food provision at the point of crisis and to support people in the longer term by helping them to get back on their feet. They know this is something their customers feel strongly about and they’ll donate over £20million across the next three years to support The Trussell Trust and FareShare as a result!

So what will the ‘Asda Fight Hunger Create Change’ programme achieve?

This programme is deepening the partnership between The Trussell Trust and FareShare. Utilising FareShare’s distribution services means foodbanks will be able to include fresh food and produce in the three-day emergency food supplies.

Meanwhile, we’ll be granting £3m a year (two-thirds of the funding we’re receiving) to foodbanks to support their work and increase their effectiveness, particularly in additional services beyond emergency food. We are also increasing our capacity to support foodbanks by recruiting additional Area Managers around the UK, and providing extra support for volunteer recruitment and development too.

Our research work, which is vital to understanding why people are forced to use foodbanks and helps us to influence government policy, is also set to receive a significant boost to funding!

Along with everything that FareShare are doing to increase their capacity to redistribute more surplus food and Asda’s commitment to ensure that every one of their stores is able to donate surplus food by 2020, a lot of change will be achieved. We will see at least one million people lifted out of food poverty and countless more receiving meals made with the additional surplus food that FareShare are able to redistribute.

Tell us why The Trussell Trust and FareShare have been paired together to deliver this programme?

As FareShare’s Chief Executive Lindsay Boswell explains ‘FareShare is squeezing the social goodness out of an environmental problem by redistributing surplus food to charities who do good things with it’.
Foodbanks in our network can do a LOT of good things with food and so working together in this way, particularly to increase the level of fresh food that our foodbanks can give to people in need, just makes complete sense.

As charities, we’re doing very different but very complementary things, and we both have national reach and scale through the networks we’ve created so the benefit of the programme will be felt in communities right across the UK. Partnerships are key to how we work and charities can achieve so much more by working together like this.

The ‘Asda Fight Hunger Create Change’ programme was announced in February, when will the programme start to create an impact on the ground?

Asda held their annual meeting for General Store Managers in February, so we wanted to let them all know that their store would be being paired up with a foodbank or other local charity and how they could get involved locally. It seemed like the right time to tell the world about what we had planned! We are currently recruiting new staff to support foodbanks and volunteers and manage the grants programme, and will see money and additional support reaching foodbanks and their clients from this summer.

In May, Asda stores will start to ramp up their efforts by launching food and volunteer drives to support foodbanks and other charities in their local area.

About FareShare

FareShare is the UK’s largest charity fighting food waste and using it for social good. They save good food from going to waste and redistribute it to frontline charities and community groups who turn it into meals for vulnerable people.

Last year they redistributed enough food for 28.6 million meals. Visit fareshare.org.uk for more information.

Some people might worry this is ‘normalising’ hunger and food poverty and could even lead to foodbanks being a permanent fixture in our communities. What would you say to that?

Absolutely not – we will never accept hunger and food poverty. This funding will help foodbanks reach out to more people in crisis, yes, but crucially they will be able to do more to help tackle the causes of hunger, by supporting people to get back on their feet with so much more than just food – for example through debt advice and job clubs. And we’ll be able to use our research more and more to influence policies which will make life more manageable for people currently struggling on low incomes. We’re here to stop hunger and food poverty, not just make it easier for people to live with – and Asda and FareShare are here to do that too.

Asda have pledged a lot of money, does this mean you don’t have to fundraise for the next three years?

Not quite! The funding from Asda, while substantial, is only partially covering some of our existing costs – we wanted to use it mainly to fund new things that we haven’t been able to do before. So we still need to fundraise another £5m or so a year to fund all of our work. Over and above that, we need to make sure that we have new or alternative sources of funding beyond the lifetime of the Asda funding for this additional work. While we are determined not to make foodbanks a permanent fixture in our communities, we know it will take longer to stop hunger for good. We’re going to do it though!