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Ipswich-based FareShare East Anglia set to move to bigger premises in Colchester as demand on services triples

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An Ipswich-based food charity has said it is distributing three times as much food now as it was pre-pandemic, as it confirmed it is nearing completion on a move to a bigger site in Colchester.

FareShare East Anglia last summer confirmed it was seeking a new home because it had outgrown its base in Leslie Road, Ipswich, which opened in 2017.

The organisation, which redistributes food donations from supermarkets to charities and food banks, outlined the stark increase in demand the Covid-19 pandemic caused, and confirmed it is closing in on a new home in Colchester.

Mike Barrett from FareShare.
Mike Barrett from FareShare.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Suffolk County Council scrutiny committee meeting on poverty, East of England regional manager Mike Barrett said: “Pre-Covid we were averaging around 30 tonnes a month going out the door.

“Covid hit, the demand was massive and we had to take on a second warehouse and we were averaging 155 tonnes per month out the door out of Ipswich.

“We have totally outgrown the site, so we are currently in negotiations with a new site in Colchester because we cannot find a property that is suitable in the Ipswich area.

“It’s a bit Goldilocks syndrome – it’s either far too big or far too small but we want something in the middle. We need around 10-15,000sqft.

“We are at the negotiations stage with the landlords and solicitors, and hope to move very soon.

“At the moment we are operating out of one of our sister sites in Nottingham, and we are shipping stock down from Nottingham into Ipswich but we are still managing to do 90 tonnes per month out of the Ipswich site on a reduced crew because the demand is still there.”

Mr Barrett said around 15,000 people in the Suffolk area were supported per year through the organisation’s work.

The meeting heard that soaring demand nationally for foodbanks meant there were now more foodbanks than McDonald’s in the country – 2,000 foodbanks compared to around 1,300 McDonald’s.

Mr Barrett said: “The demand is huge, we are finding that there is an increase from our charities we have gone back to they say they are getting an average of about 75 per cent demand extra food, it is really noticeable.

“An average small charity will take about 100 kilos a week, they are now coming to us saying can we have two, three, four hundred kilos a week. The demand is huge and we can only see this growing.

“It’s people not at the lowest end of the payscale, it’s working families, it’s mums and dads that have hit the crisis and have got extra bills to pay.”