Can food be donated to the homeless?
In all cases, food must be donated to the final consumer via the app so you must ensure this rule is followed.
Homelessness is a highly complex and very emotional topic so let's discuss it from all angles:
- There are around 4,000 homeless people in the UK and it’s a disgrace. Luckily, there are countless homeless charities who use food (amongst other things) to get in contact with those sleeping rough and offer help that goes beyond supplying food. Food is fundamentally important but it's not going to take anyone off the streets. Vulnerable people need professional support from social workers, just as much as they need food.
- There are 8-12 MILLION food insecure people in the UK (the term for this is hidden hunger). People who have a smartphone and a roof atop their head but struggle to get nutritious food on the table for themselves and their family. Because we don't 'see' these people, we think they don't exist. The vast majority of these people don't use food banks because of the stigma attached to it or because they are unable to get a referral from a referral agency. . We know many of those use OLIO.
- We consulted our friends in the charity sector on this and they highlighted that fact that by simply giving food to rough sleepers, you could create dependencies that actually don't solve the problem (what happens if OLIO runs out of money and we stop operating? What happens if a FWH stops collecting?). You may also 'incentivise' people who need help to rely on food handouts, not visit a food-providing homelessness charity which can also signpost them to professional services (e.g. benefit advice, legal support, mental health and addiction services) to support them to move away from rough sleeping.
- Less important, but one to consider: OLIO is trying to reduce the amount of food that is wasted, not fighting hunger. We do however believe that both are complementary objectives because you could feed all 800 MILLION malnourished people on this planet with 25% of the food that is wasted in the US & UK - let this sink in.
- We have built a web version of the OLIO app that you can use from any computer (e.g. in a library) to make OLIO even more accessible.
Lastly, our food businesses want to know how many people benefited from their donations via our FWH's kind help, so if food is passed on outside the app, there's no record and it will be difficult for us to explain what happened to the food.