New foodbank warehouse opens in Plymouth as food poverty gets 'so much worse'

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A foodbank charity has set up a new permanent warehouse in Plymouth to supply a million meals for families in Devon and Cornwall by 2023.

Fareshare South West is the biggest food distributor charity of its kind in the UK. The charity works with national supermarket supply chains to redistribute food that would otherwise go to waste.

By 2023, it hopes to be delivering to 100 charities with a goal of delivering more than 420 tonnes of surplus food each year to local frontline foodbanks.

Director of Operations, Lucy Bearn, said it had been supplying emergency food supplies during the pandemic from Bristol but now believes the warehouse in Plymouth represents "a long term commitment from Fareshare".

The turnover of the entire stock in the Plymouth Fareshare warehouse is less than a week Credit: ITV News

Lucy said it took "four years of really hard work" to get to this position and said: "I think what the pandemic started and the cost of living crisis has now done has put people who were not in a very good position in an even worse position.

"So in terms of the demand, we have a really good bird's eye view across the kind of food poverty picture in the region, and it has just got so much worse over the last few years."

Shakespeares Primary School in Plymouth is one of the first regular deliveries set by the the Plymouth distribution team.

It put on "Shakespeare's shop" which helps around 50 families top up their weekly shop with fresh food and store cupboard essentials for free.

Deputy headteacher, Bex Radford, says these top ups can "take away the worry of a nearly empty fridge.

"The children love coming in with a carrier bag and just picking up the things that they are very keen to have in their evening meal or that packed lunch.

"The parents work really hard for their children doing a really great job".

Bex said she's motivated to support parents and "our school community in just enabling them to have food in their cupboards that the children are going to enjoy eating."

The FareShare network works with more than 600 food suppliers across the UK with most of the in-date food given to the charity before it reaches the supermarket.

Deputy Head Bex Radford says the school wants to help top up family's store cupboards Credit: ITV News

But local companies like Dartmouth Foods based in Plympton also donate thousands of meals like turkey curry.

A member of staff at Dartmouth Foods, Greg Choulerton, said: "We're supplying up to 5,000 meals a week now with the hope that we're going to be supplying some more going forwards.

"And we're looking to develop new products and we're supplying into both depots now, Plymouth and Bristol. So the Plymouth Depot is perfect for us because we're just down the road."