Pasta, peaches and powdered balti: Army rations on the menu for homeless and elderly

The Daily Telegraph - 14 Jan 2019
Army ration packs are to be given to charities supporting the homeless and lunch groups for the elderly, the government has announced.

 The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says that up to 20,000 unused ‘operational ration packs’ are to be donated over the next few years.

The military will provide the packs to FareShare, a charity that distributes food to nearly 10,000 charities across Britain, including community groups, homeless hostels and lunch groups for the elderly.

The ration packs include items for breakfast, lunch and dinner and each provide 4000 calories, enough to sustain an active person over a whole day.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said: “Ration packs help provide nutritionally balanced meals to our armed forces on operations around the world.  But charity begins at home, and I’m pleased our partnership with FareShare will make sure no food goes to waste.

“FareShare does a fantastic job redistributing food across the country and I’m proud the military can support communities in this way.”

Food will not be handed directly to people on the streets. Instead, local charities will cook the food and distribute centrally. It is hoped charities will save on food bills, allowing them re-invest money into essential support programmes.

The move follows years of campaigning in Parliament by Frank Field, the Independent MP for Birkenhead who resigned the Labour whip in August 2018 over alleged anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and was the result of a policy review ordered by Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, last year.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Field said he was delighted at the decision by the MoD and fully supports the work of FareShare, but hoped that his constituency in Birkenhead, where the campaign started, would not miss out on the initiative.

"This is a really encouraging announcement from the Secretary of State," he told the Telegraph. 

"As the campaign for this reform began in Birkenhead, and given the number of homeless veterans we have across Wirral, we very much hope to receive a share of these supplies." 

Around two million ration packs are used by the military every year, with less than one per cent requiring disposal as some items are perishable.

The ration pack provides a two course breakfast, lunch and a three course dinner, including sausages in rapeseed oil, pasta rigate, balti chicken sauce powder and peach slices in light syrup. Halal and kosher meals are available.

Roger West, the head of logistics at the MoD’s procurement organisation based in Bristol, said: “I am delighted to be able to provide support for this important issue and help in some way to tackle food poverty.

“This solution will deliver food products where they are needed while also minimising waste. This is the right thing to do.”

Dominic Nicholls, The Daily Telegraph