Food redistribution charity FareShare is reaping the benefits of CHEP’s ongoing commitment to Food Banks in the UK and across Europe. As part of its global Corporate Social Responsibly initiatives under the three pillars of better planet, better communities, better business, the supply chain specialist has been supporting the European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA) since 2016.
The aim of this strategic collaboration is to help alleviate hunger and reduce poverty, malnutrition and food waste across Europe. As part of this plan, CHEP appointed Rob Spencer, pictured, as Senior Director, Business Development, food banks. In this new role, Rob works full time on FEBA’s key strategic priority, to increase the volumes of food being redistributed to feed people in need in the UK, which lags significantly behind similar western European countries in this respect.
As part of the cross-organisational partnership, in August 2016 Rob joined the senior management team of FareShare, the UK’s national food redistribution operation, as their acting Head of Strategy. FareShare redistributes within its anticipated shelf life, food from the food and drink industry that would otherwise go to waste, to frontline charities including homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs and senior citizens lunch clubs.
Working closely with Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive of FareShare UK, Rob’s challenge was to help FareShare pursue its ambitious growth targets and manage the strategic change required to achieve their goals. Rob’s highly successful two-year secondment to FareShare is about to end, with several opportunities being identified for CHEP to leverage its skills, experience and expertise to assist FareShare in its mission to ensure no good food goes to waste in the UK.
Commenting on this partnership approach, and the importance of CHEP’s role within the process, FareShare Chief Executive, Lindsay Boswell, said: “As a member of both the European Federation of Food Banks and the Global Food Banking Network, we are part of a global movement working to alleviate hunger by capturing surplus food and delivering it to the people who need it. Working with like-minded organisations like CHEP gives us unprecedented access to specialist expert knowledge and skills that are critical to help us in the delivery of our services. Rob’s contribution to securing the funding has been critical, and we are delighted with the partnerships he has helped us to forge.” It is anticipated that such ambitious plans for expansion will enable FareShare to help one million people out of food poverty.
The joint initiative between CHEP and FareShare goes beyond the FareShare growth strategy. Many joint initiatives have been generated, including CHEP’s Zero Harm experts helping FareShare achieve its health and safety goals, and the CHEP UK Sales team raising awareness of FareShare with its charity members.
Another project, the social enterprise driver training programme, has helped FareShare source urgently needed van drivers by linking jobseekers with disadvantaged circumstances to driving roles within FareShare, including the provision of specialised training. CHEP financed the apprenticeship of two trainee drivers at FareShare’s Merseyside operation. The trainees were a great success, becoming valued team members for the duration of their assignment, and the work experience gained helped both trainees successfully secure employment outside FareShare at the conclusion of the trial.
During his time working with FareShare over the past two years, Rob has helped to reduce FareShare’s logistics costs and make its supply chains more efficient. He has also provided support with organisational strategy and leveraged CHEP’s existing business relationships in the fast-moving consumer goods market, especially with food manufacturers, to increase the amount of food being donated to the charity. Health and safety practices have also been improved with the adoption of CHEP’s award-winning Zero Harm safety programme.
Reflecting on the two-year secondment, Rob said: “This is the first role of its kind for CHEP and highlights the company’s commitment to tackling food waste as part of its wider CSR commitments. CHEP’s business model is inherently sustainable and its expertise in creating more efficient and effective supply chains, as well as its partnerships with manufacturers and retailers, makes it uniquely placed to offer assistance in this area. I’ve enjoyed my time enormously, and I hope the foundations we have put in place will serve FareShare well for many years to come.”