The rising challenge of food insecurity with Ped Asgarian, Director of Feeding Bristol
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Bristol Local Food Fund (BLFF) is a strategic, city-wide approach to tackling food insecurity for the most vulnerable. Through working closely with charities, businesses and food projects, the Fund is uniting the city to empower communities and create a more sustainable food system.
This week, Ped Asgarian, Director of Feeding Bristol, explains food insecurity, the challenge of making good food affordable and why Feeding Bristol is supporting the Bristol Local Food Fund crowdfunder campaign.
“Food insecurity is when people don’t have access to nutritious, culturally appropriate and affordable food for their dietary needs - and this is unacceptable. Food should be a right and not a privilege.
Food insecurity is indirectly linked to poverty. Almost one fifth of the UK population live below the poverty line, and Bristol is no exception. The food inequality disproportionately affects the areas of the city that are the most disadvantaged already. People are on lower incomes, and they struggle with the cost of, and access to, fresh food that meets their dietary requirements. This is a stark contrast to other parts of the city, where areas are significantly more affluent, with shops selling good quality produce in abundance.
Often the more disadvantaged areas can be described as food deserts - somewhere where you have a real paucity of fresh food available. Then there are food swamps, where you’re actually surrounded by sources of unhealthy and inappropriate food. They don’t have shops selling fresh produce due to lack of investment or, in the case of supermarkets, the perceived poor return on financial investment for their business.
Over the last 18 months, the city has come together to tackle the rising issue of food insecurity during the pandemic. Now, Bristol Local Food Fund has the ability to continue to support local community food projects that are having a positive impact on the food system.
We also need to address the inaccessibility and price of locally produced, ethical food. Affordability is a key part of creating a fair food system, but it's a very difficult one to tackle. We want to put a lot of emphasis on growing more locally, but to grow locally on a smaller scale, it can cost more - that's just the reality of food and farming. You've got people that want to access good, environmentally consciously produced food, but they need it to be at an affordable price.
So, we need to think innovatively about how we create a food system that manages to balance the cost of production of food and the cost of buying food. It needs to be accessible, while promoting a burgeoning and healthy local food economy, that doesn’t come at the cost of the producer.
We're supporting Bristol Local Food Fund because it’s taking a community approach to how we resource food provision around the city to ensure that it is done in a fair and just way.
The Fund is designed to bring people to work together collaboratively, to co-create ideas but also ensure that the community is at the heart of the decision making to ensure that the funds are going to organisations that are going to make a difference in those communities.”
Please donate to the Bristol Local Food Fund crowdfunder today, and help build a fairer food system: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/BLFF