Homelessness is a rising issue in the UK, and has been on the increase for the past 3 years; there are approximately 185,000 individuals that are affected, with a ten year high on children living in temporary accommodation and the lowest levels of new housing being built since the 1920s. It's a huge issue, and it's not going to get smaller, but at least the big businesses are doing their bit, right? Unfortunately, that would be wrong. Supermarkets are sending a disgustingly small amount of wasted Food to the aid of these people, and some of the statistics are very shocking indeed.

Follow in France's footsteps

In 2016, France became the first country to use a bit of logic, and decided to ban supermarkets from binning or destroying excess food that was suitable for human consumption; businesses with shops larger than 400 square meters in floor space were made to sign donation contracts to various charities or face a hefty fine, but it still begs the question of why they were having to be forced in the first place? In return for this newfound stream of donations, charities had to promise to hold the stock in conditions that meet hygiene regulations and take care to ensure that they are given out to those in need in conditions supporting human contact and conversation, rather than just throwing them out of a van or setting up unmanned stalls.

They, of course, were happy to oblige, and now have drastically increased capabilities to ensure they are feeding as many people as humanly possible, with good food that's fit to eat.

The UK needs urgent change

Supermarkets in the UK are subject to no such laws. There are no legally binding obligations and no quotas to fill, and don't be conned into thinking bosses might take some initiative and do the right thing.

Out of all businesses operating in the grocery sector, Sainsbury's tops the charts when it comes to donations, sending a little over 7.5% to charitable organisations or food banks, which, let's face it, isn't exactly a large quantity. However, it seems that government subsidies favour the livelihoods of animals over that of their citizens, as supermarkets are rewarded for sending excess food to be used in animal feed, gas production, and fertilisers; Sainsbury's, for example, sends 90% of its surplus here.

That doesn't seem like the fairest proportion of distribution when taking the facts into play.

Whilst it may seem impressive that 115,000 tonnes of food are donated every year, I can assure you that it isn't. That's still only just over 3 percent of the total figure, and according to a specialist, upwards of 50 percent of all wasted food is suitable to be readily consumed by humans; it isn't just about the quantity sent as much as the variety: meat, fruit and vegetables are consistently given at much lower level confectionery, which means it's a struggle to provide the healthiest nutritional balance. There's also the issue of overproduction in the food cycle, which supermarkets are responsible for.

By telling producers (such as farmers and bakeries) that they are expected to fulfil certain amounts of product, depending on the forecast, or risk a termination of contracts, many choose to overproduce in order to know for sure that they will be able to keep trading. This food ends up in the mouths of animals or the depths of landfills, and that must change.

If we added more pressure to these businesses to change their ways, and made it a legal obligation to do so, there would be no end of positive outcomes. Those that need to be fed could have access to meals with good nutritional value, the environmental impact would be noticeably reduced, and we could alleviate some of the strain our society is facing. At the end of the day, it's just common sense to do so.