So many of the ills in society and the world are paradoxes: obesity and malnutrition, low wages and shareholder profits, to name but two.

Another has become more apparent than ever during the pandemic: the issue of food waste and food poverty.

Remember those moments of bare supermarket shelves? A scarcity of tinned food, no flour and no pasta. While some were messing up their sourdough starters and wondering what to do with 2kg of conchiglie, more and more people were falling into food poverty.

About a third of food produced for human consumption is wasted worldwide. Around 4.5m tonnes of food and drink is wasted in the UK each year; perfectly good food that ends up in landfill.

In the meantime, as people lost their sources of income, the number of people in poverty jumped, as did the number of people using foodbanks.

At least 700,000 people in Wales currently find themselves in financial insecurity, with more than a quarter of children living in poverty. According to the Trussell Trust, foodbank use in Wales increased by around 10 per cent.

Nobody wants to see food dumped, but the process of getting produce from suppliers to those in need is not straightforward.

In some countries, like in Denmark, supermarkets simply leave their surplus food outside overnight for people to take when the shutters come down.

When supermarket chain Rema started putting up the sign “take me, I’m single”, it reduced some of its surplus food waste by 90 per cent. It is now a culture that is engrained into the country’s society.

Such a culture is still being cultivated this side of the North Sea. While supermarkets do not want to waste food, for ethical or financial reasons, there are barriers to handing it out.

First and foremost, there are issues about making sure the food is safe to eat and still of quality. Then there are the issues with getting it from A to B.

But, through problems, solutions are found. Enter FareShare Cymru.

Part of the UK-wide FareShare charity that Marcus Rashford shone a light on last year, it has the mission of redistributing surplus food across Wales.

From its warehouse in Cardiff, the charity’s 70-plus volunteers process 655 tonnes of surplus food to more than 150 members of its network.

From schools to homeless shelters, foodbanks to refuges, over two million meals are produced from the food that would otherwise be wasted.

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Not a foodbank, the warehouse is the middle man between producers, such as supermarkets, and organisations and charities tackling food poverty on the frontline.

Walk around the site and you immediately realise how large the operation is. There is food everywhere, from fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables to high-end ready meals. Cereals and tinned goods are stacked high, while freezer and refrigerator space means almost anything can be preserved, including top-quality cuts of meat that appear on restaurant menus.

Chloe Rossi, the charity’s food sourcing coordinator, joined FareShare Cymru during the pandemic after volunteering at a local pantry.

She said: “There are vulnerable people who are going hungry and food waste and food insecurity is a huge issue. Currently we supply 183 frontline charities. If these groups and organisations didn’t exist we would have a lot more hungry people.

“We are taking surplus food from producers and redirecting it to the people who need it most.”

As the food arrives at the site, often by the lorry full, it is stored depending on whether it is ambient or in need of freezing and refrigeration.

FareShare Cymru is treated as a food supplier by law, meaning it must adhere to the same food standards regulations as any other producer or supplier.

Volunteers produce mixed pallets made up of fresh fruit and vegetables, proteins and meat, and cupboard essentials.

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Those pallets are then delivered by the charity itself, or collected by local organisations.

Dan Richard, who is now assistant operations manager at the charity, started as a volunteer about four years ago, driving a delivery van once a week.

“When I first started here as a volunteer, it ticks two boxes, there is the social justice element and there is also the environmental side as well,” he told The National.

“Given where we are in the chain, we act as a bridge between the large supermarkets.

“They know they can come to us with three pallets of celery for example, and we have the distribution network that we are able to distribute to.

“The logistical work may be too much for them, but we can ensure that that food is where it should be, which is in people’s stomachs.”

In the last year, FareShare Cymru has had to triple its output in food, with more people using local pantries and food groups.

Katie Padfield, who manages the network of organisations who receive food, said: “I come from a family of farmers and I have always been interested in ethical food supply and where food comes from.

“While there is surplus food, it’s important to look at how we best use that to support people who really need it in the community.”

“We more than doubled the organisations we worked with in last year and we are still seeing that increase in demand now.”

Such is the nature of surplus food, often the turnaround has to be quick based on the use-by date of produce.

At times, a batch of raw chicken is in a curry or casserole at a homeless shelter within 24 hours.

While the pandemic had an impact on demand for the charity’s services, it also had an impact on the interest in volunteering.

All of a sudden, people had time on their hands as their employers placed them on furlough, their university’s closed and their usual activities ceased.

Phil Pinder, volunteering and projects officer, said the charity saw a major change in the number and range of volunteers who wanted to get involved.

“The Marcus Rashford interview was the big changing point,” Phil said.

“Over the last 18 months we have grown hugely because people know we are there and they realise how terrifying it is that there is so much food poverty in Wales.

“One of the positives though is the number of people who have got involved. We have had entire families in, people who are furloughed, students who are home from university.”

Now that the furlough scheme starts to wind down and people return to work, FareShare are once again on the look out for volunteers to get involved.

Phil now hopes that the lessons learnt during the pandemic continue to focus people’s minds on the importance of community.

Asked what his message is to anybody who is interested in getting involved, his answer is simple.

“Have a look at our website, get in touch with us,” he said.

“We will have a chat on the phone, set up a trial day, give it a go for the day and decide if this is for you.

“There is no pressure on how much time you have to give. We have roles for drivers, drivers’ assistants, warehouse volunteers, operations and admin volunteers, and each person is given tasks based on their individual needs and what they are comfortable doing.”

For more information, visit FareShare Cymru.