With the food system under pressure during the Covid-19 outbreak, Food Cardiff is coordinating city-wide action to support households across the city and to promote the positive changes which are being made in response to lockdown.
Prior to lockdown Food Cardiff were creating a long-term plan to improve the local food system. They had supported the recent development of Cardiff Council’s Food Strategy, which was approved by Cabinet in November 2019. They were also planning a big Food Summit for June 2020, to bring together senior decision-makers, grassroots activists, local businesses and community groups to celebrate Cardiff’s food culture and help co-design a long-term vision for the city.
A core part of their work has always been to tackle food insecurity, for example by developing the School Holiday Enrichment Programme, Food and Fun, and building a network of community food pantries providing affordable food. However, Covid-19 presented new challenges because of the pressure exerted on the food system from demand (so-called panic buying), availability of resource (staff and volunteers) and closure of public and third sector services (e.g. children accessing Free School meals, day centres for older adults). Adding into this the challenges for people self-isolating or shielding and unable to leave their home.
Food Cardiff has responded to the new challenges brought by Covid-19 in the following ways:
The paper provides advice on the best citywide response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including utilising facilities to produce and deliver food, providing quality advice to the public and maximising land for food growing.
Established a Covid-19 Food Response Task Group.
Recognising the importance of a collaborative, cross sector approach, Food Cardiff convened the task group which consists of Cardiff Council, Cardiff 3rd Sector Council, Fareshare Cymru, Trussell Trust and Cardiff & Vale University Health Board, Cardiff Business School. The Food Response Task Group helped co-ordinate the provision of food, resources and advice. They worked in partnership with community groups to understand where food and support was most needed and supporting local volunteer initiatives such as Mutual Aid Groups.
A joined-up approach by a network of anchor organisations and food response partners delivered a co-ordinated response across grassroots groups, established charities and the public sector. The network of community partners helped with storage and distribution of food, co-ordinated referrals of people needing food and supported local grassroots projects.
By connecting initiatives across the city, Food Cardiff aimed to increase the efficiency of food distribution and the amount of food available to those in need. Connecting and collaborating meant they could:
Food Cardiff also re-launched foodcardiff.com as an information hub and asked people across the city to get behind the good-food response. Residents are encouraged to support local food businesses, reduce food waste and grow their own food. Ideas, actions and success stories are shared across social media via #GoodFoodCardiff.
Food Cardiff has been running a successful local Veg Cities campaign since 2018, and most recently working with Edible Cardiff and supporting a network of local small-scale farmers, allotments and community gardens, to respond to lockdown.
Almost 14,000 plants, seeds and growing kits were distributed during lockdown as part of a city-wide campaign to encourage people to grow their own vegetables. A team of 70 volunteers across 16 projects helped deliver seeds or plants, and online growing classes were provided.
Windowsill growing kits were distributed in Cardiff Council’s food parcels, food bank parcels and to other community groups. Vegetable seeds and grow bags were sent to children of key workers attending school and families at home during lockdown and seed packets were distributed to GP surgeries and care homes.
Several of the projects have been supported with funding from Food for Life Get Togethers.
Following the success of the growing initiatives, the Good Food Cardiff Autumn Festival was organised in September and October. The month-long programme consisted of covid safe distanced and virtual events involving community groups, gardens, neighbourhoods and markets to inspire people to grow, cook and share food throughout the city. 25 partners held 45 free food activities, reaching 4000+ people. 5,000 vegetable plants were distributed. Online cookalongs, recipe swaps and cooking classes resulted in more than 1,300 meals being cooked and shared.
In late 2020, Food Cardiff resumed the process to develop a city-wide Good Food Strategy. They collaborated with the Sustainable Places Research Institute to host Field to Fforc: A People’s Assembly. The event was attended by 70 participants and the outcomes from this event, alongside a survey of 58 general public responses, and engagement with 40 stakeholders informed the first draft strategy.
There was in-depth consultation to co-create the final strategy with 2,394 responses.
Though actions are already in progress, the strategy will be fully launched after the Welsh Government pre-election period, with a mass engagement campaign based around the 5 core goals.
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