My name is Hannah Laurison. I am with Sustain. Sustain is an alliance of about 100 UK organisations who share our aims, working on issues from urban agriculture to public health, and public procurement to food waste. We work with them to find consensus on specific issues...and then develop campaigns, networks, practical projects, and research to advance the issue.
Sustain coordinates the Sustainable Food Cities Network together with our partners The Soil Association and Food Matters. I have been asked to describe the Sustainable Food Cities approach as a model for how cities can tackle some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges. I will start by describing our Network and then take a closer look at how we are tackling food poverty as a Network.
We see three broad categories of action on food poverty. 1.Solutions – like food banks – that tackle immediate and urgent hunger in time of crisis 2. Initiatives that create a strong safety net, particularly for the most vulnerable, including children and the elderly. 3. And, critically, long-term policy changes that build resilient communities, such as planning policies that create incentives for healthy food access or reduce the concentration of fast food in deprived areas.
Rather than focusing on charity-based solutions, the Sustainable Food Cities’ Food Poverty Campaign promotes effective and affordable government action to reduce food poverty. Given the shrinking of low-income benefits, publicly-funded nutrition programmes must take on a bigger role in supporting people in food poverty.
We champion strategies that reverse the demand for emergency food assistance, provide a publicly-funded safety for the most vulnerable and ensure that low-income households can afford and have access to decent food.
We take a life stage approach to food poverty, with targets for each of four age groups. We are focused on giving children the best start in life by increasing uptake of HSV and consumption of fruit and vegetables.
We know that nationally, as many as1 in 4 eligible families miss out on this benefit because of complexities in the way it is delivered.
We want mothers to receive the support they need to establish and maintain breastfeeding.
For school-aged children, we want to ensure that all children have one good meal every day of the year, through school meals, school breakfasts and holiday hunger programmes.
Excellent evidence from Child Poverty Action Group Scotland and EIS on actions schools can take to support students. We know we need action on holiday hunger and that holiday meal provision like the project in Renfrewshire are needed to make sure that no child misses meals during school holidays.
For adults, we must expand economic opportunity through local Living Wage policies that ensure work is a pathway out of poverty.
And we must ensure that local government meets its responsibility to provide home delivery of meals for the most vulnerable elderly.
National advocacy is needed.
Working with Church Action on Poverty, Oxfam, FareShare, Trussell Trust and others to set up national grassroots advocacy campaign based on the Right to Food. Will be having conversations with many of you to learn how best to work with you here – we know that different approaches will make sense in the devolved nations where the political climate is more supportive of solutions that get at root causes of hunger. We hope you will join us in pressuring DWP to take action on sanctions and benefits delays, which push so many into crisis. National food poverty monitoring More funding – holding meeting of funders on holiday hunger in December. Hope to create funding for pilot projects that can contribute to evidence base with long term goal of creating a secure and sustain public funding stream. Plan to do similar meeting around innovative, social enterprise approaches to Meals on Wheels – if any of you have good examples of how your community is ensuring that older people eat well and are cared for, I would love to hear from you.
You can learn more about the work in the other key issue areas and read examples of local innovation at our website. You can also sign up for our listserv to receive ongoing updates and communicate with the cities in our network. Thank you.
Beyond the Food Bank Campaign - by Hannah Laurison, Sustain