Ministry of Defence urged to give spare military food supplies to the homeless

The MoD has been urged to give unwanted food to the homeless. Credit: Yui Mok / PA

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been urged to give thousands of packages of unwanted army food supplies to the homeless rather than throwing them away.

Work and Pensions Select Committee chairman Frank Field said the unwanted supplies should be handed out to the "army of the homeless" before they go out of date.

Figures released to Parliament show more than 12,000 operational ration packs (ORPs) were put in the bin between April and December 2016 - more than in the previous 12 months.

In the whole of the 2015/16 financial year 10,798 ORPs were disposed of, while the year before the figure was 5,004.

Senior MP Frank Field said the unwanted food is 'ideal' for homeless people. Credit: Anthony Devlin / PA

Mr Field said that he was "staggered" by the amount of food packages the MoD throws away.

He added: "The number is going up and they're only destroying it.

"I just hope someone will look into it. Let's move it from one army to the army of the homeless."

"These supplies are designed for people, in a sense, to eat on the run, and people in doorways are in a similar position.

"They're ideally constructed for when people haven't got much."

Defence minister Harriett Baldwin said out-of-date ORPs are withdrawn from use and disposed of in line with current food safety legislation.

An MoD spokesman added: "Our stocks of ORPs are managed to make sure they are consumed within the two-year shelf life required to meet our food quality standards.

"We only undertake disposal of ORP as a last resort and only at a point when the product can no longer be consumed.

"Due to the changing nature of exercises or deployments, there will of course be occasions when ORP has not been issued before it becomes out of date."