FareShare says 'supplies aren't meeting demand' as it reports food shortages

Our reporter Fiona Marley Paterson had an exclusive sight of the figures.

New figures show that the FareShare charity's 36 projects across Cumbria have supplied more than two million meals in the last 12 months as the cost of living crisis continues to hit communities across our region.

The charity turns food supermarkets would throw away into meals and food bank stock for charities helping people feed their families across the North West.

Waste into Wellbeing is one of those charities in Kendal. They say affording to eat is the biggest issue facing Cumbria.

Stacey Hurley from Waste into Wellbeing told ITV Border, "The people that come in to access our support is changing. The increase is in those that were getting by before that this stretch has kind of just pushed them over the edge.

"But by coming to the cafe we're supporting them with that community connection, that social aspect, which is really important because you know, being in food poverty can be quite isolating."

The charity says it is still very reliant on grant funding and as such it is sometimes difficult to see past the next six to 12 months.One user of the cafe, June Bissland, said, "I have a child with disabilities and I have noticed that the price of food has gone up so much and I'm constantly buying like every other day with food, and no sooner it's in the fridge it's gone and he eats double the amount of what he used to eat.

"So it's hard work to try and feed a growing lad."June attended the cafe with her family, including Abbey Bissland, who says, "The food shopping bills over the last couple of years have doubled.

"So it's good to be able to come and help yourself and there's no judgment and you just pay what you can afford to."June's niece Nicole Bissland also helps at the cafe and adds, "And there's so much donated each time, you can take a bag full of shopping home and make meals for the week."FareShare distributes the food to groups like the cafe in Kendal, who turn it into low-cost meals.

Before the pandemic, they were supplying a million meals across Cumbria and Lancashire.

That rose to three million during the pandemic because Government money was made available.

Now they say they haven't got enough food to meet demand: delivering two million meals when it could be four or five million.Fareshare is part of Recycling Lives. Its Chief Executive, Alasdair Jackson told ITV Border, "We're in a perfect storm at the minute.

"Demand is higher than ever with the food surplus that exists dropping off for various reasons.

"We've all heard about the supermarket shortages and the fruit and veg shortages. So if the supermarkets aren't getting it then we struggle to get it too. The Ukraine war has affected the surplus supply."

'Unprecedented demand'

Mr Jackson says at the same time, they are seeing unprecedented demand for the service as people cope with the cost of living.

He says, "Electric; gas goes up; cost of living; inflation was 8.7% again today, I think. So when people's bills are being hit and their wages aren't necessarily following it in that way, something has to give.

"So people you would never think about accessing our services now have to: people who are working maybe haven't got as much money as they have before. But it's not that people have gone away; there's an addition, there's just more people."When asked how he sees the future as the cost of living continues to bite, Alasdair thinks this situation will continue for at least another year and adds, "We'll just keep fighting the fight."

'Biggest issue facing Cumbria'Cumberland Building Society has donated a quarter of a million pounds to Fareshare, acknowledging that it is the biggest issue facing people in Cumbria.

Its Chief Customer Manager, Claire Deekes told ITV Border, "To have food poverty in Cumbria at this, you know, at this age, it's really important that we invest and we support."Interest rates have been climbing; fixed-rate mortgages are now at around 6% interest.

Ms Deekes said the building society is trying to shield its customers from the other costs, like mortgage repayments and rent, that make it a struggle to pay for food.

"We haven't passed on all of the Bank of England base rate increases," she said.

"And when we do see interest rates going up from a saver's perspective, we always pass on some of that interest rate increase. So we're doing our bit."With the cost of everything going up, supply isn't keeping up with the demand for food in Cumbria.

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