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Michael Lloyd-Jones on why we need the Bristol Local Food Fund and how you can help make it happen

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

Bristol is famous and celebrated for its food and drink culture. Local and independent retailers, cafés, restaurants, producers and suppliers who all care deeply about food, sustainability and community are key elements of our economy, society, health and sustainability. This was demonstrated perfectly by Bristol’s success in achieving the Gold Sustainable Food City award in June 2021, thanks to the hard work of Bristol Food Network and other partners. But while so many of us enjoy this wonderful food and drink culture, for thousands of our fellow citizens in Bristol, it is a world away.

According to the Council’s most recent Joint Strategic Needs Assessment on Health and Wellbeing, 1 in 20 households experience “severe or moderate” food insecurity, meaning they are unable to regularly access good quality, nutritious food to maintain their health. That’s around 10,000 households, which is a completely unacceptable situation. Food insecurity also impacts disproportionately upon people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people, single parents and young people, so it’s a wider equality issue too, with ramifications across public health including physical and mental development, educational attainment and economic progress. Food insecurity in Bristol didn’t sprung up during the pandemic. Like every city in the UK, Bristol has deep-seated inequalities that range beyond food insecurity. But the impacts of COVID-19 exacerbated the situation in new and complex ways.

Fortunately, throughout the pandemic, Bristol’s community response was incredible. Thousands of volunteers, businesses, community groups, charities, and the Council worked together like never before to ensure anyone who was struggling to access food was looked after. Like many crises, the pandemic forced us to move quicker and more creatively than we might otherwise have done, we showed that we can overcome huge challenges by working together. But as we step into a new phase of the pandemic – the “new normal” – thousands of Bristolians are still in vulnerable and precarious situations – some more so than before.

Many community food projects that have been working tirelessly to support people impacted by food insecurity are struggling to cope with the demand, while donations and volunteering efforts are drying up too. Added to that is a multi-level winter crisis, with food prices rising, supply chains failing, energy bills soaring and cuts to Universal Credit. It’s a perfect storm, but please don’t let anyone tell you that we are “all in the same boat”, some of us barely have a liferaft.

So how should we respond as a city? This is where the Bristol Local Food Fund – or BLFF – comes in.

Bristol Local Food Fund is a new fund for community food projects that are tackling food insecurity in our city. It will give accessible, flexible funding and will focus on areas facing the greatest disadvantage and help to build a fairer food system in our city. The Fund aims to help community food projects scale up their work, sustain their operations and deliver innovative, local solutions to food insecurity – and it will prioritise people and communities experiencing the greatest disadvantage.

To ensure the fund helps the people it intends to, BLFF will create a Citizens Panel of people with lived experience of food insecurity. The panel will be representative, diverse and properly remunerated for their time, and supported to design a fund that will really work for the grassroots community food projects in our city.

BLFF is a project that’s been developed over the last 12 months by a group of volunteers, working in partnership with Bristol City Funds, Burges Salmon, Bristol City Council, Feeding Bristol and Bristol Food Network. The funds will be held initially by Quartet Community Foundation who will act as the grant-holding organisation.

To kick-start the fund, we have launched a crowdfunding campaign with a target raise of £100,000, and we are going to need your help to make it happen Bristol. How can you help?

There are lots of ways you can support BLFF:

  • Donate to the Crowdfunder:

  • Share the campaign with everyone you know – social media and face to face where possible - find and follow BLFF’s social media channels here:

  • If you own a food or retail businesses, offer rewards to the crowdfunder to encourage others to donate

  • If you work for a company or organisation, ask them to:

    • Share the BLFF campaign in the staff newsletter (we can supply some text if you need)

    • Make a larger donation to the crowdfunder campaign.

    • Create a mini-fundraiser of your own that is linked to the BLFF crowdfunder, details here:

Join in and let’s make this idea a reality. Let’s come together as one city to help communities fight food insecurity and build a fairer food system.

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