One year on since the launch of FareShare Island of Ireland – the Community Food Network has distributed 154,000 meals to vulnerable groups in Northern Ireland through its Belfast Depot. To give you an idea of how successful this is, if you laid down all those dinner plates they would go from Belfast to Larne.
The Council for the Homeless (NI) has been managing and delivering FareShare IOI for over 12 months. The Belfast Depot, based in Linfield Industrial Estate, has proved to be an enormous success to date with 25 volunteers helping out every week. Volunteers have been working for 6,000 hours since the depot opened, collecting ‘fit for purpose’ surplus product from food suppliers and re-distributing it to charities, day centres and hostels – working with the elderly, homeless people, destitute foreign nationals, people with disabilities and people with alcohol and drug addictions.
FareShare IOI is providing a credible and safe solution for the disposal of waste products for suppliers, diverting 64 tonnes of good quality food from landfill in its first year – that’s the same weight as one of Titanic’s funnels.
The FareShare initiative also reduces CO2 volumes, making it attractive to food suppliers as well as providing volunteers with valuable work experience and training in Food Hygiene and Health and Safety.
Development Officer Méabh Austin comments: “One year on and the depot is thriving. We are so grateful to our volunteers for helping out and for the local food suppliers both big and small who continue to support us. We now deliver surplus food to 56 charities or Community Food Members as we call them, so we really do need all the help we can get. If we can deliver meals to 154,000 people in our first year, who knows what we can achieve next year if more local food suppliers really get behind us.”
The Belfast Depot is registered with the Environmental Health Department and can handle chilled or frozen products safely with full temperature control and traceability assurance. The removal of excess foods from food suppliers is completely free of charge, reduces CO2 emissions and landfill contributions. Food producers/manufacturers wishing to arrange collection of excess food products should call 02890 332230 or 02890 246440 or go online at www.chni.org.uk/fareshareioi.html