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Bristol Local Food Fund awards £60,000 to 18 community food projects using participatory grantmaking

by Michael Lloyd-Jones, Founder, Bristol Local Food Fund

A man leans out of the community kitchen window box to hand out home made cookies to children at St Paul's Adventure Playground
Free food available for children and families at St Paul's Adventure Playground

I began exploring the idea for Bristol Local Food Fund in the midst of the first lockdown, back in June 2020. The crisis had brutally exposed the social and economic inequalities in our city, but also demonstrated the power of community organisations coming together to support people in vulnerable and complex situations.

At the same time, working for a grant-making organisation and being networked in Bristol’s food & drink and sustainability scenes, I knew just how inaccessible funding could be for small community organisations - particularly those serving areas or communities that experience the biggest disadvantages.

This pushed me to begin the creation of a new fund that was more equitable, accessible and attuned to the needs of community food projects fighting food insecurity, and bridge the gaps in food provision across our city.

With inequalities exacerbated to unprecedented levels by the ongoing cost of living crisis, it’s been heartening to see the first round of funding awarded, with £60,000 raised during our crowdfunder campaign going to 18 amazing community projects fighting food insecurity across Bristol.

A key difference to many other funds is that these grants were awarded through a “participatory grantmaking” process, with people with lived experience of food insecurity deciding on the fund criteria and making the final funding decisions too (learn more about the participatory grantmaking process here). To make this process happen, we recruited 7 people with lived experience of food insecurity to our Citizens Panel and empowered them to design the process, and decide on which organisations would receive funding. They were supported by a professional facilitator and remunerated for their time (£15 p/h) and expenses covered.

We believe that giving decision-making power to people with life experience of food insecurity resulted in:

  • A more simplified application process - with video and audio options for answers

  • Funding being offered for a wider range of needs, such core costs - which many other funders do not offer.

  • Priority given to community food projects operating in areas that experience the most severe levels of food insecurity.

A few highlights of the funded projects:

  • APE Project CIC, which manages St Pauls Adventure Playground, received £5,000 to support their Food for Thought programme, assisting with provision of free, freshly cooked hot meals to children that attend the playground, as well as learning to sow, grow and prepare fresh vegetables grown in their community garden.

Image of children at St Pauls Adventure Playground peeling carrots, red onions and sweet potato that are laid out on chopping boards
Food preparation workshops at St Paul's Adventure Playground

  • Travelling Kitchen CIC received £4,960 to host a series of “community cook-ups” in Southmead to share cooking skills, batch cook meals to take away and address isolation with a shared lunch.

  • Caring in Bristol received £4,100 toward the Bristol Goods project, a pop-up food shop operating in Hartcliffe and Withywood providing affordable healthy food, independent living skills and additional support to people on low incomes or at risk of homelessness. Attendees pay £3.50, or as much as they can afford and receive £20 of groceries. The project also provides additional services such as support with housing issues or mental health difficulties.

Image of a person standing behind a table with several boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables. The person is wearing a t-shirt that says "Caring in Bristol"
Caring in Bristol's Bristol Goods project, based in Hartcliffe and Withywood

  • Bristol Somali Youth Voice, working with young people of Somali heritage across Bristol, received £2,000 to deliver educational workshops on food budgeting, reducing food waste, healthy eating and accessing good quality, nutritional food.

The 18 funded projects received their grant awards in December 2022, which were administered by Quartet Community Foundation. Applications were open for 6 weeks from October 4th to November 14th 2022, and we received 41 applications, requesting a total of £178,000. This shows just how in demand this kind of support is.

We’re now taking a moment to review our progress so far, and think about how best to take the project forward. Stay tuned for more stories from the projects funded, as well as the next steps for the fund.

Bristol Local Food Fund is run entirely by volunteers, working in close partnership with Feeding Bristol and Quartet Community Foundation, and supported by Bristol City Council, Burges Salmon and Bristol Food Network.

Discover more about participatory grantmaking process and why we chose it:

Click below to see the a full list of grantees and amounts awarded:

Bristol Local Food Fund- first round funding - all grantees
Download PDF • 82KB

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