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Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Monday, 11 October 2010 14:47 UK
Lack of charity funding means food is going to waste

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Gareth Furby spent a night with homeless people in Covent Garden

Sandwich shops in London say they are forced to throw out fresh food because charities are unable to carry out enough collections.

Eat and Starbucks said they were committed to reducing waste and helping the homeless.

People in Covent Garden and Embankment have been filmed waiting outside shops to pick up bin bags of discarded food.

Charities say they need funding for more vans to collect and distribute food.

'More to do'

Faith MacArthur, founder of Eat, said her family business tried hard not to waste food and had clear objectives to combat it.

"However, we are a food business and need to offer a selection of food to our customers right up to closing time. Because our food is fresh it cannot be used the next day," she said.

Ms MacArthur said 75 per cent of Eat's shops were giving leftover food to charity but admitted there was more to do in eradicating waste.

A spokesperson for Starbucks said: "We are primarily a coffee business and although we've spoken to charities about distributing unsold food, the relatively low volumes and inconsistent supply means it has not been worthwhile for them."

The spokesperson said Starbucks had been in talks with Fareshare but its shops opened too late for the charity's collection service.

'Living on sandwiches'

Patrick Rarden of Waste Not Want said the biggest issue was logistics as many shops close at different times and the delivery vans had to get across the capital.

"We can't get everywhere because of money. We rely on donations to run the vans and we are operating in a very difficult funding environment at the moment."

David Meller, Director of Operations at FareShare said: "A sandwich is highly perishable. You have to refrigerate it, say where the sandwich has come from and where it is going. The whole food safety aspect is very important to us.

"We run transit vans which collect and deliver food. Because we deal with the manufacturing side we negotiate costs.

"The motivation to try and tackle it is ethical. Then we should work through the problem of cost."

One homeless man filmed by the BBC, called Paul, claimed: "Thousands of people in London are now living off sandwiches."

Another said: "I don't think that you should throw them [sandwiches] in the bin, when there are people on the streets that are hungry and starving."

The government's most recent figures showed 317 people slept rough in London on any given night in June 2010 but homeless charity Crisis said the figure for 'hidden homeless' was much higher.




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