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As Volunteers' Week comes to an end, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on our remarkable journey with Central Co-op and to honour our incredible volunteers who made it all possible.

In 2018, Central Co-op embarked on a project with FareShare Midlands, a charity dedicated to alleviating food poverty and reducing food waste. This initiative saw our distribution team collecting donations and surplus food from our stores, delivering them to FareShare Midlands’ distribution centre in Narborough, Leicestershire within a 24-hour timeframe. This efficient system ensured that unsold items, still within their "best before" dates, were redirected to those in need, resulting in the donation of over one million meals annually.


Despite the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, our partnership persevered, demonstrating the unwavering commitment of Central Co-op colleagues and volunteers to the cause. However, logistical circumstances have meant that in March 2024, Central Co-op had to end their direct support for FareShare Midlands. Nonetheless, the legacy of this partnership lives on, as FareShare Midlands continues to utilise the infrastructure initially established by Central Co-op to sort and redistribute surplus food from other retailers and corporate partners.

According to the government, more than a million people in the Midlands live in poverty and struggle to feed themselves and their families. Fareshare Midlands volunteers have been at the forefront of supporting these individuals, making a significant impact through dedication and hard work. We’ve been speaking to just a few of the amazing volunteers that worked on the project with us.

Fiona began volunteering as a warehouse assistant in August 2019 after her retirement. Encouraged by a friend, Fiona wanted to make a difference and help others facing hard times. "It’s really practical to take food that would otherwise be thrown out and be able to send it to people to make use of," she says. Fiona’s role involved sorting food into different categories and preparing it for distribution. She found joy in the physical activity, the camaraderie with fellow volunteers, and the knowledge that her efforts were directly benefiting the community.

Judith, a former teacher, started volunteering in January 2019. Having witnessed the impact of food insecurity on her students, Judith wanted to contribute to alleviating this issue. She found immense satisfaction in the team effort and the enjoyable atmosphere among volunteers. "Volunteering has helped me retain my sanity," Judith shares, emphasising the importance of social interaction and purposeful work. She highlights the shocking amount of food waste and the positive impact of their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Linda began her volunteer journey five years ago after seeing a call for volunteers on the local news. Driven by a belief that no one should go hungry, Linda found purpose in helping process food donations. She enjoyed knowing that her work was helping those in need and appreciated the friendships formed with fellow volunteers. Linda’s story underscores the personal fulfilment and community impact that volunteering with FareShare Midlands provides.

The partnership between Central Co-op and FareShare Midlands has been nothing short of phenomenal. Over six years, from February 2018 to March 2024, we worked together to rescue over 4.4 million meals worth of food, which would have otherwise gone to waste. This initiative saved almost 2,000 tonnes of food from ending up in landfill and instead supported thousands of people in need across the Midlands.

One remarkable aspect of our partnership is that Central Co-op have been able to provide Fareshare Midlands with high quality foods, including fruits, vegetables and bakery items like bread and cakes. While volunteers meticulously sort these donations to maximise redistribution, even the waste isn’t truly wasted. Items that can't be distributed are diverted to anaerobic digestion or used as animal feed, ensuring that nothing goes to landfill. This holistic approach not only supports those in need but also reinforces our joint commitment to sustainability and reducing environmental impact.

Simone Connolly, FareShare Midlands CEO said: “The support provided by Central Co-op to FareShare Midlands over the years has been simply incredible. For the most vulnerable in society, accessing nutritious food reduces their financial burden, improves their health and wellbeing, and connects them to their community. This partnership has been truly life changing for thousands of people every single week. We thank Central Co-op for their passion and commitment to FareShare Midlands and our collective mission to get surplus food to those who need it most.”


The Fareshare Midlands volunteers are truly unique. They’ve formed a team, a family, creating bonds and friendships while making a significant difference in their communities. For many, volunteering has been a lifeline, providing social interaction and a sense of purpose.

As we celebrate Volunteers' Week 2024, we extend our deepest gratitude to all the Fareshare Midlands volunteers that have been a part of the journey with Central Co-op. Your dedication, generosity and support have made a profound impact on the lives of many. Together, we have shown the power of community and the incredible difference we can make. Thank you for being part of this journey with Central Co-op and FareShare Midlands. Here’s to continuing the legacy of support and kindness, one meal at a time.

For more information on Central Co-op initiatives, visit centralcoop.co.uk or follow them on socials.

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