The Food Poverty Project has changed its name this quarter to Food Access Network UK. This will be announced in the next edition of Let us Eat Cake! due out at the end of October. Other forthcoming promotional material includes an article in the glossy magazine Red, focusing on young female campaigners and featuring Claire's work on food poverty. Just as she hits the headlines, Claire is leaving the project to move to the South West. Sustain wishes her well in her new location.
Lisa has been continuing to rebuild the food poverty network. A survey was sent out with the July issue of Let us Eat Cake! asking projects to update their details and tell us what services they would like. Although the returned surveys provided some valuable information and ideas, unfortunately the number was too small to update the database. With the help of volunteers, Lisa is now phoning as many projects as possible to update their details and remind them that they need to renew their subscription to continue being a member.
A small subscription fee has been re-introduced, based on a sliding scale linked to turnover, Members will receive the newsletter, and access to members' only sections of the web page on, for example, funding. Eventually, we hope to introduce members-only regional meetings focusing on particular food access issues.
The Food Access Network was contracted by the FSA (Consumer Section) to co-ordinate a series of UK liaison events, to bring together community food projects from across the UK to share good practice and consult on relevant issues. The first in the series was held on 18 July in Birmingham, and the evaluation report has been accepted by the FSA. Suggestions given by attendees have been incorporated into the development of the second event, which will be held on 7 November in Cardiff.
The Food Access Network was subcontracted to undertake some research with our network to look at ways in which the FSA could ‘interface’ more effectively with nutrition projects. The consultant's final report is now with the FSA and we understand it made some helpful recommendations.
It is not clear when the FSA's Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey results will be published. Lisa will keep a close watching brief on this area, as it should provide an invaluable opportunity for the Food Access Network to highlight the continuing problem of food poverty and what can be done.
London Food Access
There has been a series of meetings with London Food Link for members of either network based in London, to discuss food access issues in the capital. The most recent meeting was held on 15 September and had a presentation from Fare Share, and a discussion about whether corporate sponsorship is appropriate for community food projects.
Planning policy and retail
Claire has been attending various coalition meetings that are focusing on the Competition Commission Inquiry (CC) into the Grocery Market and was invited, along with other organisations, to give oral evidence to the CC on 11 October. Food Access Network members and visitors to the website are being encouraged to email the CC with their concerns about the current grocery market and examples of how the operation of the major supermarkets is affecting them locally.
Lisa attended the first meeting of the Point of Sale Working Group, held jointly by the Department of Health and the British Retail Consortium. The meeting discussed how to increase the amount of healthy food promoted in independent shops, and the retailers' role in responding to and stimulating demand for healthy foods.
Food poverty and older people
Lisa has been developing some proposals around food poverty and older people. She has met the Welsh Consumer Council, which recently produced a report on this issue, and has agreed reciprocal support on any campaigns developed. Lisa has also had positive discussions with Officers at Age Concern England.
Networking and promotion
Lisa recently gave a presentation to the Food Study Group (a group of food related academics) to raise the issue of bridging the gap between research and practice on food access. As a result, the Food Access Network is starting to develop a ‘dating agency’ for projects that need evaluation and universities with students who would do such an evaluation as a part of their research.
The Department of Health has recently confirmed that, following their review of section 64 grants, funding for the next two years for the Food Poverty Project is secure, subject, of course, to fulfilling the terms of the agreement and providing satisfactory progress and financial reports.
Work commissioned from the project by Henry Brown, of Westley Consulting, is making good progress. The consultancy project, for the FSA’s nutrition section, is examining how the FSA could more effectively ‘interface’ with community food projects. With the help of volunteers, we have contacted 60 community food projects in England and Scotland to ask them about their work and the links with the FSA.
Lisa Wilson, appointed in May, has already organised the first UK liaison meeting, funded by the consumer section of the FSA. The project is bringing together the four countries in the UK, and also including the Republic of Ireland, to share experiences and good practice among those working to tackle food poverty. The first meeting was held on 18 July at Harborne Hall in Birmingham and the second is expected to be in Wales in the autumn. The Birmingham event included speakers from the networks in each of the five countries and participants were asked for their views on the Food Vision website, jointly run by the FSA and the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS).
Local food access strategies and planning
It has been announced that there will be a two-year Inquiry by the Competition Commission into the grocery market. The Competition Commission has explicitly stated it will be addressing planning policy and its impact on consumers, which will provide a helpful focus for the project’s efforts to help communities obtain, or retain, a range of shops in their area selling a good range of affordable, healthy and sustainable food.
Helpfully, the Competition Commission has written to the Food Poverty Project acknowledging our comments about consumers not being a homogenous group, and undertaking to consult us and disadvantaged communities to ensure the impact of the grocery market on such communities is taken into account, and their particular needs addressed.
The project continues its involvement with both the Breaking the Armlock and Tescopoly campaigns to ensure that the needs of poor citizens continue to be reflected in their work. The project also retains working links with the ‘Peanuts 4 Benefits’ campaign coalition.
The project held another joint meeting with London Food Link in July to continue the consultation with community food projects, including London, on the future development of the food poverty project.
Meetings this quarter also included a presentation by Lisa at the Parliamentary Food and Health Forum in June, on food poverty, and a workshop by Claire at the Federation of Community Development and Learning’s annual conference at end of May, in Torquay.
The project achieved inclusion of good nutrition and community mapping in a new report, Malnutrition Among Older People in the Community: Policy recommendations for change.
The summer edition of Let us Eat Cake! will be sent to the network in July, along with information to encourage network members to revive their paying subscriptions, on a new sliding scale. A membership survey will also be included. Work on revamping the project’s website and brand also continues.