Supporting local food systems responses to Covid-19

Local food partnerships are playing a crucial role in the response to the Covid-19 crisis and its impacts on rising food insecurity, viability of small food businesses and social isolation, organising rapidly in cooperation with local authorities and other local groups to address these challenges.

SFP Covid-19 Notice January 2021

The global Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect all our the lives and the winter lockdown is putting further strain on the food system. In the face of the ongoing crisis SFP will be supporting our members in their local responses. A Food Resilience Grant was launched in February 2021 for our members to scale-up and adapt those responses but also to create resilience in their local food systems to better withstand shocks such as coronavirus. We will be updating the Coronavirus tab with new case studies and any useful, trusted information regarding food and the pandemic. We will continue to use our existing communication channels such as the SFP Newsletter and Coordinator Catch-ups to publish relevant information and create space for you to share best practice.

We would like to encourage anyone involved in supporting community food responses to the Covid-19 crisis to subscribe to our email distribution list which is packed with useful information, examples of local responses and problem-solving. This is how you can subscribe: send an email to Once subscribed you can ask your questions or share info by emailing and it will be received by all. To unsubscribe from this list, email

The SFP team is here to support the whole Network in your efforts to provide good food for all despite the huge challenges we all face.

Case studies

We started a series of case studies covering the role of local food partnerships in the response to Covid-19.

Sustainable Food Places Covid-19 Digest

We published regular Covid-19 digests based on input and discussion coming through from the Sustainable Food Places Network of food partnerships across the UK.

Weekly coordinator catch-ups recordings

Please visit our Webinar Recordings page to watch all previous sessions.

During the first Covid-19 wave, Sustainable Food Places and Food Power jointly hosted a weekly online forum for food poverty alliance and food partnership coordinators to connect and share with each other, hear national updates on food-related issues, and feedback their on the ground experiences to national network coordinators and campaigners.

Sustainable Food Places' monthly newsletter

Join Sustainable Food Places' monthly newsletter for updates on key news, events, campaigns and opportunities.

We are organising information, guidance and resources along three key themes and are updating these pages regularly.

Local examples 

We started compiling examples of local response coordination below and in our regular Covid-19 Digest. If you are interested in examples of local action on securing food for vulnerable people or supporting the supply chain and diverse outlets please go to these pages. 


  • Birmingham City Council have been providing 4,000 parcels per week to shielded groups, catered to dietary requirements.  National Express Accessible Transport has helped with distribution of parcels. CityServe’s nutritionists are ensuring the parcels are nutritionally balanced and fresh produce is sourced from the city wholesale market.
  • Birmingham City Council have commissioned The Active Wellbeing Society (TAW) to coordinate the response for vulnerable groups and they are working with all food banks in the regions, including faith based food groups so that food can be moved all around the city. There is one contact helpline for those in need of food to allow for coordination and food banks meet weekly to check in. The council is helping to fund the coordination and the food access as many food bank donations have dried up. Wellbeing information is also included in food parcels to check in on mental health of the borough.
  • BVSC have been coordinating the voluntary sector of the emergency response. 
  • ‘Brum baby bank’ has been created to ensure mothers and babies are getting access to nutritious food and are crowdfunding.
  • Cityserve, the Council’s catering service, have provided the majority of free school meal parcels ahead of the government scheme.
  • Harborne Food School is providing ‘home from hospital’ hot meals to people returning from hospital.



  • Feeding Bradford working closely with council emergency planning as they are seen as a key part of council strategy re. Food banks and crisis meal providers for destitute homeless 
  • They are setting up some food collection points for organisations and working with new neighbourhood hubs to see how food can be distributed through new centers – new work that council are calling to Feeding Bradford to assist with  
  • School feeding led by Bradford Council – plan is that school kitchens remain open to feed children probably as takeaways 







  • Calderdale Food Network is posting support and local updates on their Facebook Page



  • Cambridge Sustainable Food have published advice for safely handling and delivering food 
  • Cambridge Sustainable Food have created a spreadsheet documenting notice and actions happening around the city e.g. CAB closing to drop ins, football club cancelling community events including senior lunches to make sure they know where the hunger gaps are. They are also approaching local businesses and universities for redistribution services, food donations and resources 





  • Sustainable Food Places case study: Glasgow local food partnership is leveraging support from other local organisations to facilitate emergency food provision and other key services, while gathering learnings to inform their Glasgow City Food Plan to make it better fit for the future.


  • The Chairs of GMCVO, the GM VCSE Leadership Group, the GM BAME Network and GM BAME SE Network and the GM Social Enterprise Network have written to the Chancellor, the Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak asking for more support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations
  • LockdownLIVEs project was launched in mid-April. In collaboration with the GMHAN and Street Support Network. LockdownLIVEs is a docu-series co-created by GM residents in emergency and temporary accommodation during the pandemic. The project aims to creatively connect people who are self-isolating in emergency accommodation; and help the broader public understand how this crisis affects those who don’t have their own homes.  The submissions are edited into twice-weekly, themed episodes that air on social media (@StreetSupportUK and @LockdownLIVES) on Tuesdays and Fridays at 3pm
  • An online form has been developed to help record offers of aid and/or requests for assistance across Greater Manchester in relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Greater Manchester Poverty Action are now thinking about how Greater Manchester rebuilds and recovers after the pandemic
  • A Greater Manchester-wide Community Support Fund has been set up by Forever Manchester for community groups responding to the impact of Covid-19. Greater Manchester Poverty Action has been a recipient of a grant. 
  • Greater Manchester Poverty Action is recruiting for a Food Poverty Coordinator to initially work on the coordination of the Covid-19 food provision. 



  • Haringey Council is working with Edible London CIC and have opened up a second food hub at Alexandra Palace (the first hub was opened at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium). Referrals for the food service come from the Connected Communities line. Food boxes which are going out to vulnerable residents contain fresh produce, bread, milk and ambient goods. They aim to move to a system whereby residents are delivered a monthly essentials box, with a fresh produce box delivered every few days. A lot of their food comes from surplus networks from Edible London and the wholesalers, Tropical Sun Foods.



  • Referrals are made from the We Are Islington phone line, set up are a partnership of the council, mutual aid groups and local charities. 
  • Islington Council have launched Islington Giving Crisis Fund to support groups and organisations providing frontline support
  • They have opened up a food hub at a local leisure centre and used the ice rink and a cool storage centre for fresh produce. The public health team is helping to ensure that boxes going out to vulnerable residents are both nutritionally balanced and practical.
  • The are 25 community food projects in the borough, part of the Islington Food Poverty Alliance.



  • Lancaster City Council have identified 27,000 vulnerable people across the district. They have contacted over 10,000 of this groups and delivered nearly 10,000 food parcels
  • Lancaster support line is live which is a partnership between CVS, Hope Church and the council where residents can now link in with volunteers for collection of prescriptions, shopping and a friendly chat service. 77 from the 800 registered with CVS have signed up to the support line
  • Map of Volunteer support groups in Lancashire
  • At Lancaster City Council, discussions are now taking place regarding post COVID including how to make some big changes to meet Climate Change, Community Engagement and Community Wealth and how to keep procurement within the city and strengthen our engagement within the community.
  • FoodFutures, North Lancashire's Sustainable Food Network, is collating information about schemes that are responding to the lockdown and emergency food needs in Lancaster District
  • The food partnerships has set up all the working groups that used to meet face-to-face online via Zoom
  • Food Futures organise a weekly meeting to coordinate Covid-19 response with representatives from The Lancaster and Morecambe Food Poverty Alliance
  • Lancaster City Council has set up a Lancaster District Support line and volunteer support hub, this will soon be on the council coronavirus webpage. A new website has been created for agencies to refer someone for emergency food 
  • Hope Lancaster are coordinating a community-led response and is working with the council to refer volunteers 
  • Egg Cup, a Lancaster based charity, focussed on food poverty and community building is helping to get meals to those worst affected
  • Morecambe Bay Foundation have launched The Urgent Response Fund to provide financial support to community organisations working to mitigate the effect of Covid-19 in Lancaster. They have raised over £50,000 so far
  • ARC are currently feeding 32 homeless people within the district 
  • St Joseph’s Church are actively ringing residents to offer support, requests for food have started to slow down 



  • Leeds has a well-coordinated volunteering response with Voluntary Action Leeds in partnership with Leeds City Council delivering the Community Care Volunteer scheme across all 33 wards in Leeds. In each ward they are working with a locally trusted organization (LTO) that acts as a hub to facilitate volunteering activity. All volunteers sign up through a central online hub, where they undertake online training and are then allocated out to the ward hubs. Those with current DBS checks will be allocated to specific roles and options for others to get a DBS.
  • Doing Good Leeds have produced guidance on being a good neighbour to protect both those volunteering and those seeking support
  • Leeds City Council, Leeds Food Aid Network, Leeds Community Foundation, FareShare Yorkshire, Rethink Food and other partners have coordinated an emergency food response.





  • Sustain, along with the London Food Board and other market representatives have written a letter to the London Mayor calling for a prioritisation of support for Food Markets to ensure they can stay open and to ensure the Metropolitan Police are aware they are allowed to be trading
  • The ‘London Food Alliance’ has formed to provide a coordinated response to emergency food distribution to vulnerable groups during COVID-19. Coordinators representing FareShareCity Harvest and the Felix Project are engaging a single point of contact in each local authority to assess levels of need and map each borough’s infrastructure and capacity to redistribute emergency food provision.



  • Manchester Food Partnership have drafted a Food Response Model to ensure Greater Manchester has access to food



  • Citylife Line has been set up with partners in the voluntary and community sector for people wanting to volunteer their time while also providing a service for people to register their need for assistance. Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council and Connected Voice - support a coordinated response to COVID-19
  • Food Nation is offering support in the communities of Byker, Walker, Walkergate and Heaton through the Newcastle City Council ‘City Life Line’ platform. From the 1 st of April Food Nation have been receiving referrals from the Newcastle CityLife team who are matching individuals with their nearest organisation who have been verified as a reputable group able to offer appropriate support. Food Nation also help people to navigate the new way of living including how to use local shop delivery services and understand how to access any emergency provision available to them. There are offering three areas of support:
    • Support with a one-time shopping essentials delivery - these items are typically provided through the surplus food redistribution networks in Newcastle and are basic fresh and dry store foods dropped off on doorsteps that same day. The recipient is then linked to local schemes and businesses offering delivery services
    • ‘Food Nation Friend’ Phone Calls - is a service of befriending for those most in need of increasing their social connections whilst unable to leave their homes and have limited friends and family connections.
    • A meal delivery service - where meals are cooked from fresh by Food Nation’s sister company and restaurant Harissa Kitchen - which is no longer able to trade. All people referred will receive 6 days’ food each week, delivered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the expectation to serve at least 540 free meals a week to begin with and capacity expanding to 900 as demand increases - at least 9,900 free meals over the next three months. They have a Go Fund Me page and are applying for grants. They are also hoping to work with Meals4NHS





  • Rochdale Council has announced up to £500,000 of support to help families with children hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. Around 5,000 households with children receiving means tested free school meals will receive an emergency Aldi voucher. This does not impact on the free school meals voucher scheme that schools are managing separately.
  • Rochdale have also implemented Local Community Response Hubs in each of the townships to support the most vulnerable residents. As of 24 April, the Rochdale helpline number had received 1063 calls, 783 of which were referred to the Hubs. 56% of calls to the Hubs were from residents aged 60 and over, with 38% being for the over 70 age group. The main query relates to provision of emergency food and support for weekly shopping. 



  • Southwark council are feeding 1,400 individuals a week organised with home delivery systems organised with Bestway cash and carry. They have set up a centralised system for coordinating supply for vulnerable people with a generic shopping list for the wholesaler, which is complimented by fresh produce and added household products. Bestway delivers to one hub and Southwark Council are using their staff to pack products into individual food parcels and deliver. 




  • Wandsworth Food Partnership are compiling information about the food response which will feed into London Food Board’s mapping of the city-wide response.