A MASSIVE 120 tonnes of food which would otherwise have gone to waste has provided meals for thousands of vulnerable people in Glasgow.

Experts estimate each year around 3.4m tonnes of food is wasted in the UK before it even reaches people's shopping baskets.

The shocking statistics come just days after the Evening Times launched the Food For Thought campaign to try to ensure No One Goes Hungry In Glasgow.

According to country- wide organisation FareShare, around a tenth of it is fit for human consumption - enough for 800m meals.

But instead of being used to feed the needy, food which is surplus as a result of packaging errors, over-ordering or out-of-date promotions but still within its sell-by date, is sent to landfill, to feed animals or turned into energy.

In summer 2012, FareShare Glasgow was launched as a six-month pilot using city council funding and donated premises.

It distributes high quality, surplus food that would otherwise have gone to waste to charities which look after vulnerable people with no or low incomes.

They include hostels, day centres, lunch clubs, addiction agencies and refugee centres.

But FareShare food is only available to people who are willing to accept other services to help them out of the poverty trap.

The organisation creates training and volunteering opportunities around the skills of safe food prepar-ation and nutrition and offers employability training.

The pilot was a success and the project was officially launched in the city in January last year.

Since then, the 27 charities which signed up to the scheme have received 120 tonnes of food to feed around 3000 people each week - equating to around 290,000 meals.

Through FareShare Glasgow, organisations have access to a wide range of food including dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, fresh meat and frozen food to feed people experiencing food poverty.

The project has proved so successful it has already outgrown its Port Dundas premises and has leased a second overspill warehouse in Kinning Park.

There are now plans to find a way to sign up more charities and to substan-tially increase the amount of food it hands out.

A report to councillors says: "FSG provides efficient and cost-effective redistribution of high quality surplus food to charitable organisations that would otherwise have gone to waste.

"It delivers a food service to those who need it most.

"FareShare Glasgow has successfully built up an organisation which meets the needs of people experiencing food poverty and provides volunteering and employment opportunities for vulnerable young people.

"In addition, it saves money for the charities which take out membership and improves the variety and nutritional content of the meals which are consumed."

LIZ CAMERON, the city council's jobs and the economy spokeswoman, said: "This is a project close to my heart.

"It is an excellent idea, offering the food industry an opportunity to redirect good quality food which would have been thrown away, to people who need it.

"But it is much more. For example, FareShare Glasgow has helped 40 former homeless young people into further training, education and employment.

"This has been done by teaching them new skills such as warehousing, stocktaking and forklift driving in the FareShare warehouse."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk