A total of 200 nurseries have signed up to receive surplus food to help reduce waste. The FareShare FoodCloud scheme is where nurseries and pre-schools can sign up to collect surplus, good-quality food from selected Tesco or Waitrose stores for free.

The charities that use the scheme estimate that they will save around £500 a year, and the number of nurseries signing up to the scheme is growing by the day. The scheme is designed to help reduce waste and fight hunger in the UK.

The scheme helps nurseries and pre-schools, especially those running as charities, as they struggle financially due to falling funding rates and rising costs.

Nurseries can also pay to become a FareShare member and receive regular orders from 20 regional centres across the country; it is believed the membership can save, on average, £7,900 a year.

Posting on the Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding Facebook group, Sharon Everett, manager of Merryfields Playschool in Norfolk, said the setting uses FareShare FoodCloud and it receives donations of mainly bread.

Another poster, Dawn Sharpe, said her setting mainly uses the food it receives through the programme for children’s snacks. Any leftover food is offered to parents to take home, which she said is really appreciated.

Also commenting on the page, Sarah Hawkins said, ‘Using the scheme stops food waste, enables us to purchase snacks for a fraction of the cost and to supply food to our families. I feel proud that we are providing a service that supports our community.’

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, said, ‘The way FareShare FoodCloud works is very simple. We match charities and community groups up to a local supermarket and arrange a regular day for them to collect surplus food from the store to supplement their existing food supplies. On their collection day, the charity will get a text from the supermarket, saying what food is available. The food is all good quality, in date and perfectly safe to eat, and we make sure that the charity never feels pressured into taking more food than they need. 

‘So far the scheme has been a huge success, with almost 5,000 charities across the UK signed up. Our charities are telling us that they save around £500 a year, with many of them picking up food more than once a week. This can amount to a significant cost saving, particularly for smaller charities where margins are tight.’

Manager of YMCA Maidstone Tovil Pre-school, Vanessa Burns, has said how the scheme has helped save the pre-school money and has helped change the way the children and parents think about recycling and the environment.

She explains, ‘It’s great as it boosts the variety of food we serve to the children, helps with costs and is good for the environment.

‘I pick up food twice a week from my local Tesco, who text me the night before.

‘Today we received three boxes, which included huge amounts of flowers that the children have used for messy play, role play, flower arranging, and to decorate the community centre in which we are based. We also received a variety of loaves of bread, bananas, plums and cherries – which we never normally buy as they are expensive. 

‘For some of the children, it was the first time they had tried cherries. Tomorrow we are going to bake banana bread using the leftover bananas. 

‘Whatever we don’t use we put on display for families and the community to take home. We are in a low-income council area, with lots of deprived families, many of whom have English as an additional language.’

Discover more about FareShare FoodCloud here

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