THE Real Farming Trust has announced today that it has received more than £900,000 in National Lottery funding to bring together four established local community food projects to improve the quality of ready meals eaten by vulnerable groups at risk of food poverty.
Four leading community food projects in Brighton, London, Belfast and Edinburgh have come together thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. They will be supported by Can Cook who will provide mentoring support to the programme. Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) will work with the partners, helping them to measure and report on their impact.
The groups have already engaged hundreds of volunteers, including furloughed chefs and delivery drivers, to make and deliver thousands of healthy meals during the COVID-19 emergency. The projects understand their communities and have adapted quickly to reach those most in need.
The Ready Healthy Eat project will also support people experiencing challenges to employment. The meals will be produced by trainees, who will be drawn from a diverse range of people who have faced barriers to employment and education.
Trainees at Brighton and Hove Food Partnership will be people who have overcome life issues such as substance abuse, homelessness and mental health challenges. They will work together at the Brighton Community Kitchen to use surplus fruit and vegetables to design ready meals and products that extend the shelf life of this food.
Trainees will learn skills in food preparation and develop confidence and communication skills. The project will explore what people are interested in eating, and how the meals can be distributed by emergency food parcels and retail.
The Hornbeam, partner of Organiclea in London, will use surplus food from their food rescue project to batch cook meals which will be served to vulnerable and elderly people, those experiencing unemployment and rough sleepers.
They will also supply bulk quantities of food to other community kitchens and food stalls that provide for vulnerable people in their local community. Trainees will be drawn from people who are struggling to find work, those overcoming issues around mental health.
In Belfast, The NOW Group – who support people with learning difficulties and autism into employment – will trial a partnership between local food producers to produce healthy meals to be sold in their retail units, and delivered to local people at risk of malnutrition and food poverty.
Scottish homelessness charity Cyrenians will work with communities across Edinburgh to produce fresh, healthy ready meals to distribute to those at higher risk of poverty and isolation.
They will supply bulk quantities to other organisations providing community support. Income will be generated to support the charity by selling meals at a competitive market rate to supporters and the wider public.
Jade Bashford, Programme Manager at the Real Farming Trust said:
”This project will focus on improving the diets of those people at greatest risk of food poverty, working with experienced groups to innovate and share good practice. A grant from the Community Fund has made this work possible.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, £41 billion has been raised for more than 565,000 good causes across the UK since 1994. National Lottery players raise £30 million every week for good causes in the UK. The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times.