Bristol Local Food Fund: Help community food projects scale up their work

Bristol Local Food Fund logo
Michael Lloyd-Jones

Michael Lloyd-Jones from Bristol Local Food Fund (BLFF) writes about how BLFF is creating a sustainable, central funding pot to support community food projects that tackle food insecurity. This includes creating a Citizens Panel made up of people with lived experience of food insecurity. Read on to find out how to support this vital work.

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 and development. That’s around 13,000 households, which is a completely unacceptable situation.

Food insecurity in Bristol hasn’t sprung up during the pandemic. Bristol has deep-seated inequalities that range beyond food insecurity, but the impacts of COVID-19 exacerbated the situation in new and complex ways.

Volunteers from Talo

Fortunately, throughout the pandemic, Bristol’s 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, food prices are rising and set to continue – it’s a perfect storm, but please don’t let anyone tell you that we are “all in the same boat”.

So how should we respond as a city? This is where the Bristol Local Food Fund – or BLFF – comes in. We want to create a sustainable, central funding pot to give long-term support to the brilliant community food projects in our city that are tackling food insecurity. 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, and is now working in partnership with City Funds, Burges Salmon, Bristol City Council, Feeding Bristol and Bristol Food Network. We’re also working with Quartet Community Foundation who will act as the grant-holding organisation.

To kick-start the fund, we will launch a crowdfunding campaign in the autumn with a target raise of £100,000, and we are going to need your help, Bristol.

If you would like to support the Bristol Local Food Fund, please pledge your support here.

We’re asking for:

  • Donations to the Crowdfunder when it launches
  • Rewards offered by food and drink businesses to encourage donations
  • Sharing and support for the campaign.
  • And if you want to get involved by volunteering, get in touch!

Follow us on all the usual social media channels here: https://linktr.ee/Bristol_Local_Food_Fund

Join in and let’s make this idea a reality. Let’s start building a city where everyone has access to good quality, affordable food.

By setting the wheels in motion now, together we can transform the future of food in our city, building in resilience over the next decade. So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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