The British army is donating tens of thousands of ration packs to help feed people in the UK who are struggling to afford food, including people who are homeless.
Some 20,000 “operational ration packs” will be donated over the next few years, according to reports, to tackle the joint issues of hunger and food waste in Britain.
The food redistribution charity FareShare will be responsible for sharing the ration packs to charities around the country, reportedly including food banks, community kitchens, organisations that work with people who are homeless, and lunch groups for people who are elderly, among others.
“Ration packs help provide nutritionally balanced meals to our armed forces on operations around the world,” said defence minister Tobias Ellwood in a statement.
“But charity begins at home, and I’m pleased our partnership with FareShare will make sure no food goes to waste,” he continued.
The packs are reportedly created to contain enough food for 10 soldiers to get a total of 4,000 calories each over a 24-hour period.
They include items including porridge, sausages, baked beans, pasta, and rice, according to reports — enough for a two-course breakfast, lunch, and three-course dinner, as well as hot and cold drinks.
The British military reportedly uses around 2 million of the ration packs a year, and less than 1% of the stock is thrown away. But the ration packs will be donated once it’s clear they won’t be used, to help reduce the amount going to waste and ensure the leftover ration packs are put to use.
It comes hot on the heels of calls this month for the UK to appoint a minister for hunger to support the increasing number of people who are struggling to feed themselves and their families, through investigating the origins and impact of hunger and implement plans to fix it, according to reports last week.
Currently, more than 8 million people in Britain are struggling to put food on the table, according to the Food Foundation.
And, according to the Commons environmental audit committee — which examines the effectiveness of government policy on sustainable development — the government is “turning a blind eye” to the almost 2 million potentially-undernourished people in the UK.
Mary Creagh, chair of the committee, said last week that hunger levels in Britain are now some of the highest across Europe. Nearly one in five children under 15 in the UK are living in a food insecure home — which Creagh described as a “scandal which cannot be allowed to continue.”
Meanwhile, the Trussell Trust — the UK’s largest network of food banks — gave out over 1.3 million 3-day emergency packages in Britain between April 2017 and March 2018, according to its end-of-year statistics.