The term ‘food inequality’ refers to the barriers that stop people from accessing a healthy diet – a serious issue that can lead to poor mental and physical health. This is a problem that isn’t going away: an astounding 8.4 million people in the UK alone say they’ve experienced food insecurity because of the pandemic.
Loughborough Community Centre said that ‘food inequality is hugely stigmatised, with many people still in the belief that it is non-existent’. Yet many community groups see firsthand people surviving through food insecurity every day. We have spotlighted 5 community organisations working to tackle food inequality at the grassroots that you can support today.
The Clitterhouse Farm Project – Community growing & social hub in Brent (London)
The Clitterhouse Farm Project’s mission is to transform their local Victorian farm outbuildings into a multi-use hub for the community and local business. They aim to build social cohesion, create a shared sense of pride in the area and to bring local residents together through: arts, food growing, sustainability, skill-sharing, educational workshops and training.
We asked their team why it’s so important for food inequality to be tackled by the community.
Clitterhouse said, ‘everyone has the right to access fresh and healthy produce at affordable prices. We believe that top-down policies are rarely solutions but rather sticking plasters they are not sustainable and do not change the fundamental structures that create food inequality. This is why we believe tackling that food inequality has to start at a community level.’
‘Sustainable change needs to come from the roots which is why we are doing are own little bit at Clitterhouse Farm to educate around food growing, land rights, food surplus and climate change through our Farm garden and Grub Club surplus Farm Cafe.’
The Matthew Tree Project* – food distribution with joined-up crisis support across Bristol
(Image via FB)
Supporting a nutritious diet is key in rehabilitating those experiencing food inequality. Bristol’s Matthew Tree Project goes beyond just providing free food – their unique ‘Rebuilding Lives’ program supplies people at risk of homelessness with weekly supplies of healthy food.
They provide services such as weekly supplies of fresh food for whole families, nutrition and dietary advice, and training in skills such as home cooking and food growing.
The Matthew Tree Project approaches food equality holistically: ‘We want to not only help people repair and rebuild their lives in a practical sense, but also to help people improve their health and wellbeing. Providing food, in the way we do, is a critical ‘tool’ to enable us to achieve these aims.’
Grow – community growing, cooking & education based at Totteridge Academy (London)*
(Image via @wearegrow___ on Twitter)
Grow’s community farm in London teaches young people about growing food – and so much more. The farm itself grows organic vegetables, fruit and flowers which are sold to the local community and businesses. Importantly, fresh produce is also used in the partnering school, Totteridge Academy. They tackle food inequality as a community, making sure that all students have access to healthy and locally produced meals every day.
StarGarAllot – Community Gardening project in Cardiff
In 2018, StarGarAllot was set up to improve an area behind a local community centre in Cardiff. As it grew into a community allotment, volunteers realised their dreams to provide local people with healthy food and gardening. During COVID-19, they continued to grow and distribute lots of healthy food to local people and other community groups, including Oasis – a centre for refugees and asylum seekers and Tremorfa Community Pantry.
Fancy getting involved? You can find out more about StarGarAllot and their food equality mission here.
Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society –Community cooking in Somers Town, London
Lifeafterhummus offers monthly hands-on cooking sessions for local families in London as a way to tackle food inequality, reduce isolation and improve health in the community, through an intersectional framework. By providing a supportive environment, children can not only learn how to cook, but can learn basic life and social skills from members of the team and also other families in the community. Sessions focus on the benefits of eating more fruits, vegetables, beans & pulses and whole grains whilst reducing calorie content coming directly from fats and empowering families to cook from scratch reducing foods from processed sources.
Their motto ‘health is a right and not a privilege’ highlights a key to solving food inequality, and how important it is to make healthy food accessible to everyone.
Loughborough Community Centre – community space in Brixton
Loughborough Community Centre in Brixton gives their local community a space to come together, learn, and ease the effects of poverty for families in Lambeth. One of their projects is the Rosebuds Preschool, which focuses on outdoor learning in their vegetable patch and garden – and allowing young people access to green space.
We asked Loughborough Community Centre why it’s so important for food inequality to be tackled by the community. Here’s what they said:
‘We believe it is important for food inequality to be tackled by the community as access to nutritious food is a human necessity and there is a lack in provision in this area for people in need.’
‘We have become acutely aware of how our food provision is so much more than a meal to our community at LCC @ Max Roach. Our safe space with supportive staff that nurture positive relationship with our members is invaluable. This has led to improved opportunities to bridge the gap for families to access the wider support networks available, enabling people to explore the wider challenges faced and help alleviate the prolonged impact of living in deprivation.’