Hosted by GCVS via Zoom on 22 and 24 July 2020

GCVS hosted two events on food provision, which were attended by a variety of third sector organisations.   The report from the events outlines the discussions and identifies some of the issues going forward. Key points:

– Food poverty and insecurity is not a stand-alone problem, but a feature of wider inequality and poverty. Universal Credit came up repeatedly as an issue which causes poverty, and food dependence. Issues around transport and digital exclusion were also raised repeatedly.

– Organisationally, the need for community infrastructure and organisational partnerships/collaboration is clear. Some areas were already well linked in and provided a joined-up service to those in need, but in other areas there was duplication and organisations who did not know what each other were doing.

– An ongoing issue identified (particularly relevant for any future lockdown or similar crisis) is co-ordination. This would have helped avoid duplication and aided best use of resources to meet those in greatest need. We also need a more strategic approach to supply chains and sourcing food in bulk for community organisations.

– Organisations providing food directly need to consider diversity and be culturally sensitive about dietary needs. We also need volunteers who speak different community languages.

– Giving people choice and dignity is important. Noted that many organisations are already very good at maintaining the dignity of their service users, offering personalized services, taking the time to get to know individuals’ circumstances and referring them to other services that may help them (e.g. money advice).

– Any sustainable food programme will need to have a greater focus on health than the emergency response during lockdown. The nutritional value of food should be considered. We need locally based (and preferably locally run) shops where people can buy affordable fresh food and other supplies (The pantry model?)

– Access to sustainable funding for longer-term planning and projects for the third sector remains a perennial issue.

Read the Food Events Report here