Brighton and Hove’s holistic approach to tackling food poverty is being hailed as an inspiration to other towns and cities across the UK as a detailed report shows an impressive 93% success rate for its Food Poverty Action Plan.
The report, published today, assesses progress on the 84 actions the Plan set out in 2015. It shows 49 (58%) of these actions had made good progress and 29 (34%) made some progress, with just six making minimal or no progress. It is due to go to the city council’s Health & Wellbeing Board on Tuesday 10th July.
Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, a national alliance advocating for better food and agriculture policies and practices, said: “I’m really impressed by how Brighton and Hove have been looking systemically at the problem of food poverty.
“They have been asking how they can help people with their debt, with their incomes, with their access to good food, with the supply and provision of fruit and vegetables, with opportunities to participate in community cooking. These kinds of things can help to stem the flow of problems downstream by fixing them upstream, tackling the problems at source.
“Brighton and Hove’s leadership is inspiring action around the country, informing a much wider network of cities tackling exactly the same problems. It is fantastic.”
Over the past three years, Food Poverty Action Plan successes in Brighton and Hove have included:
- Improved efforts to tackle child nutrition, including city-wide expansion of the Chomp holiday lunch club, increased take-up of free school meals and a Healthy Start voucher campaign.
- Better measuring of food poverty across the city, resulting in the identification of food poverty pockets. For example, Brighton and Hove City Council Housing uncovered high levels of food poverty among its tenants.
- Increased shared meal provision, including the launch of Casserole Cluband the launch of the Brighton & Hove Community Kitchen.
- Improved food distribution to areas of need. For example, a new Surplus Food Networkwas established, and FareShare, Sussex Homeless Support and Real Junk Food Project all expanded their services.
- Progress on tackling the root causes of food poverty. For example, the Primary and Special School Meals Service became a Living Wage Employer, and training for those offering advice to people in difficulties has helped reduce the impact of welfare changes.
The Food Poverty Action Plan is the work of more than 50 partners coordinated by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership with funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The Plan is now going to be re-integrated into ‘Spade to Spoon’, the city-wide food strategy which is currently being refreshed with the Food Partnership again leading the work, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Food Power.
Emily O’Brien, Policy and Partnerships Manager at the Food Partnership, said: “Although it is pleasing that we have made 93% progress on the many actions we set out to achieve three years ago, still more than 50,000 people in the city, or one in five, have concerns about meeting their basic living costs, including food needs.
“Among some groups, such as people with disabilities or health conditions, this is as high as one in three people. These figures have remained steady over the past four years. Because of the difficult external climate, we think that ‘holding steady’ should be seen as success for the Food Poverty Action Plan.
“However, it remains the case that there is a food poverty crisis in the city. Bringing the Food Poverty Action Plan back into the city’s food strategy means that food poverty and food inequality will be at the heart of a new five-year action plan alongside health, the economy, community, and the environment.”
Brighton and Hove was the first silver sustainable food city in the UK. The Food Partnership is currently coordinating the city’s bid to again lead the way nationally by becoming the first gold sustainable food city.
For more on the Food Poverty Action Plan and how it was developed, go to bhfood.org.uk/resources/food-poverty-action-plan/
People experiencing food poverty can find advice at bhfood.org.uk/food-poverty-advice/