Tackling food poverty through people-powered change
Food Power aims to strengthen local communities’ ability to reduce food poverty through solutions developed by them with the support of their peers from across the UK.
Our goal is to transform the way that people in food poverty access support and create long-term, sustainable lives that are free from hunger. Critical to this is engaging local people and alliances, giving voice to those experiencing food poverty, influencing practice on the ground and levering in additional resources.
We support coordinated approaches to tackling food poverty in areas across the UK, tailored to the particular locality and unique policy contexts across the four nations. The four year programme is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is led by Sustain and Church Action on Poverty.
We support alliances to tackle the root causes of food poverty, to give voice to people experiencing food poverty, and to evaluate and share what works well. The programme includes four main work streams:
- Supporting local food poverty alliances: We help build capacity and facilitate sharing of experiences between communities, with local empowerment at the programme's core. Following clear demand, we work with a network of local peer mentors to help other areas establish food poverty alliances, secure resources to turn commitments into reality and develop action plans.
- Learning and sharing good practice: At the heart of this programme is the exchange of ideas and learning, facilitated by programme staff, but equally through peer-to-peer learning across the network and the co-production of information and resources. We provide the national infrastructure and coordination to facilitate active sharing and learning, including through peer alliance visits, webinars, action toolkits, an annual conference and other resources.
- Involving experts by experience: We support the active engagement of individuals within the programme who have experienced food poverty. We are piloting models of involvement in local areas and supporting groups through a combination of capacity-building training, mentoring and resources.
- Evidencing what works at the local level: We assist local areas to evidence the impact of their work. This includes advice and support on robust monitoring and evaluation methodologies from staff and academics, as well as piloting specific evaluation models.
What do we mean by food poverty?
Food poverty, or household food insecurity, encompasses both the affordability of food, as well as its availability within local communities. It is vital that household food insecurity is seen as being driven by both the affordability and availability of a healthy diet. Food poverty has multiple negative impacts on individuals’ health and wellbeing. It is important to ensure that people can access a healthy diet in a socially acceptable way and have sufficient certainty about how they will secure a healthy diet for themselves and their households. Food Power uses the definitions below to set out both the scope and impact of food poverty.
The UK Department of Health defines food poverty as, "The inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet."
Professor Tim Lang characterises the detrimental impact of food poverty, "Food poverty is worse diet, worse access, worse health, higher percentage of income on food and less choice from a restricted range of foods. Above all food poverty is about less or almost no consumption of fruit and vegetables."
Renowned expert Professor Elizabeth Dowler adds that people should be able to access food in a socially acceptable way, defining food insecurity as, "The inability to consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so."