Neighbourly’s 100m free meals landmark ‘stark reminder of the scale of the cost of living crisis’

October 14, 2022

Bristol’s pioneering community engagement and investment platform Neighbourly is warning of a huge growth in demand for the free food distribution services it supports as families struggle with soaring costs this winter.

The firm, which has just passed the milestone of supplying 100m meals to local communities, said the cost of living crisis was now causing real hardship, with sky-high energy bills coinciding with spiralling food prices. 

Neighbourly was set up in 2014 to connect businesses with local vetted good causes to make a positive and measurable impact in communities by donating volunteer time, financial support and surplus products.

Now employing 80 people, it supports more than 21,000 local charities and community causes and partners with blue-chip businesses such M&S, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, RSA Insurance, B&Q, Samsung and Virgin Media 02.

In the year to this August more than 32.8m meals were redistributed via Neighbourly, worth £62.3m and weighing just under 13,800 tonnes.

Neighbourly CEO Steve Butterworth said: “This is an important milestone for Neighbourly, our corporate partners and crucially for our good causes.

“This huge figure translates to genuine positive impact in terms of food waste avoided.

“Of course, the fact foodbanks and frontline charities are facing such significant demand is a stark reminder of the scale of the cost of living crisis and they shouldn’t need to rely on surplus to help solve social challenges. 

“Equally, we know that 17% of food is wasted in retail and at the consumption stage worldwide and we are committed to doing what we can to reduce this here in the UK, ensuring that these valuable resources go to the best possible use.”

Recent research among Neighbourly’s network of causes found that increasing numbers of people were seeking support from food banks and looking for clothing, household essentials and financial aid. Most organisations were also witnessing a decrease in the provision of donations.

Steve Butterworth added: “Whilst we are proud of the achievement, it does not detract from the urgent issues facing increasing numbers of people across the UK.

“Our network of community groups is already experiencing soaring demand, particularly for food that does not require cooking.

“The role of corporate partners with surplus products to share is only set to grow this winter, and they will play a vital role in enabling local charities to survive and support their local communities.”

Neighbourly recently announced a partnership with Getir, the ‘ultra-fast’ grocery delivery service, on the rollout of a surplus product redistribution programme.

It also relocated back to Bristol tech hub Engine Shed, where it originally launched as part of the SETsquared incubator backed by the University of Bristol.

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