Community responses to food poverty – Co-operative Party

Excitingly, communities are developing and designing their own responses to food poverty, and many have a co-operative ethos.

With a topic as vast as food poverty it can be overwhelming knowing where to begin in your own community and having an awareness of what others are doing can help. Here are some practical suggestions for your local community.

Set up an Incredible Edible

Todmorden’s Incredible Edible is an inspiring example of a community ‘taking back control’ in the best possible sense. A Community Benefit Society, its membership’s qualification could not be simpler: "if you eat, you’re in".

Originally envisaged as a local project aiming to bring people together through actions around local food, helping to change behaviour towards the environment and to build a kinder and more resilient world it has inspired well over 700 groups across the world since its inception in 2012. It is hard to summarise everything that they do, but if you imagine a community coming together to create edible food being grown by the community in public and private land for the benefit of all, you’re not far off.

Support community produce and local markets

Incredible Edible’s campaign “Every Egg Matters" supports local people selling their eggs. Their map, showing where people could buy locally produced eggs, started with just 4 vendors; it now has over 64 local producers. The knock-on effect has been a growing awareness and interest in locally produced food, and local farmers now marketing their produce as such. Strong local markets have an obvious economic benefit, keeping money in the local economy, creating accessible local jobs, strengthening the local economy. It is important to have conversations with your planning team to ensure that they understand the political commitment to small traders, pop-up shops, ‘meanwhile use’ , and local markets, and can incorporate this commitment in what they do. Similarly, enforcement officers, town centre managers, and Trading Standards should be encouraged to adopt a permissive attitude to legitimate local trading.

Grow the community and co-operative allotment movement

Increasingly allotments are turning to co-operative forms of ownership because councils are struggling because of Government cuts to maintain adequate service levels. Common Cause has been running the Lewes Community Allotment for over a decade and have produced a helpful guide for others based on their experiences.

Explore Buy local and Buy Social initiatives

There are well-established Buy Local schemes in a number of areas which encourage local people and local businesses to buy locally. Likewise, Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social accreditation is bestowed upon areas which either have, or are actively developing, a strong not-for-private-profit economy. These schemes can complement the Co-operative Party's Community Wealth building policies.

Embrace Fairtrade policy and status

A growing number of councils have adopted a Fairtrade policy and either have Fairtrade status or are on that journey. Becoming a Fairtrade Town sends a powerful message about how your community wants trade to work and will directly benefit some of the world’s poorest farmers and workers through increasing awareness and sales of Fairtrade in your area.

Start a Community Fridge

There is a growing Community Fridge network across the UK . Community Fridges are communal places where surplus food is shared between people in a community, by local businesses and individuals – it also helps cut down on food waste. Find out more about where Community Fridges are around the country, and how you can set one up.

Look into an Affordable Food Box scheme

Affordable food boxes have been trialled in some places. The model operates on the same basis as commercial models (which are generally aimed at those interested in local, seasonal and organic produce) but these projects are aimed at long term food banks clients.

Start a Community Kitchen

Community kitchens are formed when a group of people who meet on a regular basis to plan, cook and share healthy, affordable meals. There are some essential elements to them: they are regular, they are participant driven and the food is shared between participants and their household (i.e. they are not sold or given away for free).

Join the fight for food justice

8 million people in the UK struggle to put on the table and are ‘food insecure’.

That’s why we’re calling on Government and the other main political parties to support incorporating Sustainable Development Goal 2 (“zero hunger by 2030”) into UK law.

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