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Coventry City Council will host a meeting this Friday (7 April) with other UK areas involved in a pilot project to tackle food poverty.
‘Feeding Britain’ was introduced by the independent charity, the All Party Parliamentary Group, and seeks to broaden local awareness of food poverty, discuss and promote new ideas to combat food poverty, and help create sustainable food networks. Coventry, Sheffield, Birkenhead and Bristol are some of the areas involved in the pilot scheme, set up in November of last year.
The scheme includes 12 boroughs, towns, cities, counties and regions across the UK, which all operate slightly differently from one another.
Longer term the project will help shape national policy reform and alleviate hunger at a local level.
The meeting will bring representatives from pilot projects together to discuss how the scheme is working and to develop common agreements on sustainable food practices.
In Coventry it is estimated that around 20% of the city’s residents live on the breadline and more than one in four children live in poverty.
Gavin Kibble, founder of Coventry Foodbank, said it was an opportunity to set up long term solutions to food poverty. He said: “We want to promote what has been learnt, how issues are dealt with presently and how we look to the future to find solutions to addressing food poverty. The scheme is about creating something that is sustainable.”
Some practical ways in which the scheme hopes to alleviate hunger includes increasing the number of food banks and community kitchens, and increasing access to healthy affordable food. Examples include introducing auto registration for free school meals and community food growing for low income families.
Friday’s meeting will highlight the progress different areas are making and their approach for the future.
Colin Anderson, who wrote up a report on food poverty at Coventry University, said that initiatives such as food banks are a good short term solution but are not enough. He said: “It is vital that the discussion moves much further along to focus on addressing inequality and poverty as the root cause of hunger.”
Coventry’s scheme is led by the Feeding Coventry Partnership. It includes: the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University; Citizens Advice Coventry; Coventry Food Banks; Coventry City Council; and Warwick University.
The pilot is aiming to implement four activities including: building food security; protecting people from hunger; making low cost food available for vulnerable people; and supporting people in crisis.