Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, marked World Hunger Day (28 May) today by reaffirming the city’s commitment to help around 10,000 households in the city that are experiencing food poverty.
The Mayor restated the pledge to develop a Food Equality Strategy and a Bristol 2030 Good Food Action Plan, working with Bristol City Council’s (BCC) Communities and Public Health team, and Feeding Bristol, collaborating with organisations and communities in a One City approach.
World Hunger Day is an annual national initiative created by The Hunger Project to bring awareness to the more than 690 million people worldwide living in chronic hunger due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food poverty is the inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet and is about the quality, as well as quantity of food. It is caused by multiple financial, social and physical factors, such as cost, access and the marketing of unhealthy foods.
Mayor Rees said: “We know the reality is that food insecurity affects all kinds of people and neighbourhoods in Bristol. That’s why as part of our Going for Gold partnership, policy makers and community organisations across Bristol are working together to tackle the causes of food insecurity.
“This includes redistributing surplus edible food, growing food in community plots to provide meals or fresh produce to people who need it, and giving people the skills, they need to be able to grow and cook healthy, affordable food.
“We also plan to deliver a Green Space and Allotments Strategy which encourages local food producers in every ward to help tackle food poverty, as well as introducing a rent freeze for allotments and creating a network so owners can easily contribute to local food growing projects and foodbanks.”
Ped Asgarian, Director of Feeding Bristol said that the pandemic galvanised the ongoing Good Food Movement in Bristol, giving the city a genuine momentum to tackle food inequality head-on.
He said: “The increased levels of food insecurity experienced by many residents in the most vulnerable wards and communities in Bristol during the pandemic have provided valuable insight into the extent of hidden food poverty. We are now looking to tackle through the development of a Food Equality Strategy and Action Plan.
“The city is working towards being recognised as a Gold standard Sustainable Food City, and Food Equality is a big part of this. Bristol is committed to building a fair food city for all.”
Barny Haughton MBE, Director and Founder of the Square Food Foundation in Knowle West, which teaches people from all walks of life to cook good food from scratch said: “We believe that learning how to cook is a gateway to a world of knowledge, confidence and empowerment beyond just a life skill and healthier eating. It connects individuals, families and communities in the most obvious and brilliants ways. It brings an understanding about the bigger food landscape and our place in it.
“Food education is key to the principles of social democracy and food systems resilience and that it should be central to education itself. With it we can solve many of the biggest problems facing humanity. Square Food Foundation believes that food education starts by making soup and bread.”