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Scottish Government investment helping to fight food poverty.
Surplus food from manufacturers and suppliers has helped provide 1.2 million meals for people in need in the first six months of the year, a rise of 56 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The Scottish Government is investing £296 million in mitigating UK Government welfare cuts, this includes funding of £500,000 over two years to FareShare which has boosted its work and allowed it to expand.
The latest figures reveal FareShare is currently feeding 15,504 people in an average week, redistributing food which is surplus because of overproduction, labelling errors or short shelf life, and delivering it to local projects and charities.
Statistics from April to September 2015 (Q1 and Q2) also showed:
• The number of meals rose by 422,597 to 1,179,785 compared to Q1 and Q2 in 2014
• 495.5 tonnes of excess food from retailers was redistributed, an increase of 177.5 from the previous year
• FareShare now supplies food to 323 charities, compared to 197 charities in the same period in 2014
The latest statistics come ahead of the Neighbourhood Food Collection which calls on volunteers to help collect food donations for people in need this winter. Volunteers are being encouraged to come forward to collect donations at 52 Tesco stores across Scotland on December 3, 4 and 5.
Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil today visited the Edinburgh FareShare depot which is operated by the Cyrenians. He also met people who receive the redistributed food and meals at the Pilton Equalities Project.
Mr Neil said: "UK Government welfare cuts, benefit sanctions and low pay have pushed more and more people into food poverty and sadly, increased the demand for foodbanks.
"Our funding is helping FareShare tackle food poverty by feeding more than 15,500 people every week in a way that cuts down food waste.
"In the first six months of this year more than 420,000 meals produced from surplus stock have been delivered to homeless hostels, women's refuges, breakfast clubs, community cafes, day centres and older people's groups.
"Our move to address food poverty comes in face of the UK Government's continued cuts and austerity agenda – and we are investing £296 million in welfare mitigation measures such as this.
"A cut to tax credits would put more low income families into food poverty – and that is why the Chancellor must scrap these proposals in his autumn statement on Wednesday."
The Scottish Government recently set up a short life working group on food poverty which will give recommendations on addressing the rising number of foodbanks in the new year.
Gillian Kynoch, Head of FareShare Scotland, said: "The funding has significantly increased the number of people that FareShare can support. We work with food companies to help prevent food waste and provide surplus food to projects supporting vulnerable people across the country.
"In addition to the huge social benefit there are significant positive environmental impacts as good food is diverted from disposal and destruction back to feeding people as it was first intended."
The Scottish Government's Emergency Food Action Plan is providing £1 million over two years to support 26 local emergency food aid projects and the charity Fareshare to redistribute surplus food from the food industry to communities across Scotland.
The short life working group on food poverty is chaired by Martin Johnstone from the Church of Scotland, more information can be found at: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Tackling-food-poverty-1e6d.asp
More information about FareShare and the Neighbourhood Food Collection, run by Tesco in conjunction with FareShare and the Trussell Trust, is available at www.fareshare.org.uk/food-collection-2015