Water firm staff donate unused Christmas meal money to food distribution charity during Covid crisis

Staff at regional water firm, United Utilities, found a worthy cause for their unused Christmas meal money after their usual festive celebrations were postponed due to Covid-19.

More than 1,500 of the company’s employees generously donated the money they were planning to spend on their staff Christmas dinner – which totalled around £40,000 - to food redistribution charity, Fareshare.

The charity redistributes surplus food, which would otherwise go to waste, to 250 charities and community groups, who provide meals to people in need. These include children’s breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, homeless shelters and drug and alcohol rehab units.

At the end of last year, United Utilities also donated £200,000 to Fareshare, which is working with footballer Marcus Rashford to highlight the issues of childhood hunger and poverty. That money provided 600,000 meals to vulnerable people and paid for a brand new long-wheel Mercedes Sprinter delivery van, which arrived at the charity’s Manchester warehouse in April.

The van is fully compliant with incoming Euro 6 emissions regulations and will be used to deliver over six tonnes of food per week to frontline charities, schools and foodbanks across Greater Manchester. 

Miranda Kaunang, Head of Development at FareShare Greater Manchester, said: “Eight million UK citizens go hungry every year, while food equivalent to at least 1.3bn meals is thrown away before it even gets to homes or schools.

“That food would provide the equivalent of 162 meals per year to all those eight million people who don’t get enough to eat. 

“This generous support from United Utilities is fantastic and we are very grateful. It came at a particularly challenging time for our charity.

“The new van will help us deliver the equivalent of around 735,000 meal portions this year. 

“We’d also like to thank all the staff at United Utilities for their generosity in donating their Christmas meal money to help us provide meals to people in most need.”

Chris Matthews, Head of Sustainability at United Utilities, said: “Fareshare is one of our region’s many worthwhile charities. 

“Lockdown has been particularly challenging for people, and charities like Fareshare have been especially busy dealing with increased demand during these difficult times.

“We’re delighted we could go some way to helping it meet this increased demand on its services and provide some of the financial support it needs to continue its excellent work.”

FareShare is the UK’s biggest charity fighting hunger and food waste – diverting surplus food, which would otherwise go to waste, on to people at risk of hunger via its network of frontline charities and community groups across the UK. 

At the peak of the Covid crisis, FareShare Greater Manchester was distributing enough food for around 200,000 meals each week. Two thirds of people accessing FareShare food are children and families.

The charity is now looking for volunteers to drive the van to make its deliveries.