A charity which delivers food that would otherwise go to waste can now help more people thanks to £10,000 from Comic Relief.
With just over a fortnight to go before Red Nose Day 2013, FareShare Leicester has spelled out just how vital the appeal has been.
The charity helps to feed more than 2,000 of the most seriously disadvantaged people in the county.
Started as a pilot project in 2007 by the Diocese of Leicester, it is now a franchise of the national FareShare charity – delivering 12 tonnes of food every month from its base in Coventry Road, Narborough.
But just 15 months ago, the organisation was struggling to keep up with increasing demand.
Project director John Willetts said: "The funding we received from Comic Relief was very significant.
"Prior to that we didn't have our own premises, so operated out of church halls and other venues one day a week.
"In the current economic climate, people on the margins of society are often hit the hardest.
"The basic necessities of life, such as where the next meal is coming from, becomes a major issue.
"We were finding it difficult to meet ever-increasing demand for food from a growing number of groups who needed our help.
"To meet demand, we knew we needed to start operating on a more industrial scale. What the Comic Relief cash did for us was to pay for the permanent depot we now call home for the first six months – it was crucial."
Having bigger premises has allowed FareShare Leicester to store and distribute nutritious food to more vulnerable people and take on an extra 20 volunteers.
"It has also set up a scheme, helping young unemployed people to gain work experience in the warehouse."
FareShare takes surplus food from the food industry, including Sainsbury's and Co-Op stores in Leicestershire.
Food is supplied to 22 groups, helping vulnerable people such as asylum seekers, the homeless, elderly, street workers in the sex industry and women and children affected by domestic violence, with more on the waiting list. All food is within its use-by date and complies with strict hygiene legislation.
Ahead of this year's Red Nose Day, the Leicester Mercury has teamed up with Comic Relief to give away £50,000 to small groups and charities in the city.
The money is part of Comic Relief's Red Nose Day Community Cash fund, which invites organisations to apply for grants of between £500 and £1,000. Any charity, social enterprise or community group with an annual income of less than £100,000, is eligible to apply.
Applications can be submitted online or by post and will be judged by a panel made up of representatives from the Leicester Mercury, Comic Relief and the Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation.
To find out more about FareShare Leicester, visit: