> Calls for Excess Army Rations to be Donated to Homeless - The Food Safety Company Calls for Excess Army Rations to be Donated to Homeless - The Food Safety Company
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    Monday, 27 February 2017

    Calls for Excess Army Rations to be Donated to Homeless

    It is estimated that there are currently around 8,000 homeless individuals living on the streets of London alone, struggling for even the most basic provisions of food, warmth and comfort which we are all guilty of taking for granted; and that’s just those counted in official figures. Factor in what Homeless Link describes as “hidden homelessness” and that figure may rise substantially, as research by the charity Crisis indicates that up to 62% of single homeless people are unaccounted for in official figures. Finding ways to feed and clothe these unfortunate souls is certainly a struggle, but one which, if proper steps are taken, can be beaten and overcome.

    To that end, Labour MP Frank Field, who currently serves as Chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, is calling for excess army rations to be given to the homeless population of the UK. Operational ration packs (ORPs), issued to soldiers when out on manoeuvres, could be the ideal solution for the homeless as they are specifically designed to be consumed ‘on-the-go’ and can be easily prepared without access to conventional cooking equipment. However, according to Mr Field, many of these ORPs are needlessly wasted.

    Looking at the given figures it does seem that this issue is getting slightly out of hand. Although the Ministry of Defence states that ORPs are only disposed of “as a last resort”, during the 2014/15 financial year alone 5,004 ORPs were disposed of; far from ideal, granted, but the situation has only gotten worse from there. In the financial year following, this figure had more than doubled up to 10,798 wasted packs. Then we reach 2016, during which time 12,275 ORPs were discarded, and that only accounts for the months of April-December. This is not only a significant issue in terms of waste, but a rapidly growing one at that.

    Speaking to the BBC, Mr Field says that he is “staggered” by the sheer volume of food wasted by the MoD:

    “The number is going up and they're only destroying it. I just hope someone will look into it. Let's move it from one army to the army of the homeless,” he said.

    “These supplies are designed for people, in a sense, to eat on the run, and people in doorways are in a similar position. They're ideally constructed for when people haven't got much.”

    Responding to the criticism brought forward by Mr Field, Minister for Defence Procurement MP Harriett Baldwin asserted that out-of-date ORPs are managed and disposed of according to current food safety legislation.

    An MoD spokesman added, “Our stocks of ORPs are managed to make sure they are consumed within the two-year shelf life required to meet our food quality standards.

    “We only undertake disposal of ORP as a last resort and only at a point when the product can no longer be consumed.

    “Due to the changing nature of exercises or deployments, there will of course be occasions when ORP has not been issued before it becomes out of date.”

    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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