Event write up – Community Food Practices’ Impact on Health Inequalities (Engage Strathclyde)

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Agenda:

Community Food Practices’ Impact on Health Inequalities, Thursday 7th May, 12-4pm, Strathclyde University Collins Suite, Richmond Street, Glasgow

Access to healthy diet is considered central to addressing health inequality. This session will bring key stakeholders groups together to consider the barriers to a healthy diet and social enterprise approaches to reducing these barriers. This event is intended for social enterprises engaged with food as a means of tackling health inequalities. It may also interest policy makers in the field of social enterprise, community food policy or health inequality.

Organisers are keen to map a research agenda relevant to social enterprises and to engage participants in developing research projects to meet those needs.

Outline

12pm Registration and Lunch

12.45pm Welcome and outline for afternoon

1pm Professor Barry Quinn, University of Ulster, LOCFOOD Project

1.25pm Amber Cully, Drumchapel L.I.F.E, Flat Pack Meals

1.50pm Speaker Q&A

2pm Break out groups

2.45pm Refreshment break

3pm Feedback session

3.45pm Closing remarks and identification of potential research projects

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Notes:

Dr Andrea Tonner and Dr Juliet Wilson (Strathclyde Uni)

  • important to get academics, practitioners and policy makers together and on the same page
  • academic research is lagging behind what’s happening on the ground in this areas
  • social enterprises working on community food have grown exponentially in response to health inequalities but the academic knowledge is behind and not supportive at present
  • also part of a bigger political agenda – who should actually be providing these kinds of services?
  • key to assess impact, and how best to do this
  • looking at what role social enterprises do/should have in helping to reduce health inequalities?
  • session a response to the above – want to form a research agenda that’s beneficial and complementary to the work happening on the ground.

Prof. Barry Quinn – Ulster University – The LOCFOOD Project (key speaker)

  • EU funded project across 13 partners in 19 countries, including Northern Ireland to look at “local food as an engine for local business”
  • small food enterprises make a valuable contribution to rural and periphery areas – project involved some SEs but mostly focused on SMEs
  • aim to improve regional policies supporting food SMEs in rural areas
  • mostly looking at high end, added value products
  • activities included mapping, surveys, study visits, identification of good practice, stakeholder engagement – focus on innovation and support required
  • general pictures is that food SMEs are passionate and innovative but often a mismatch between support available and uptake of support, sales and marketing a challenge – trust issues and lack of time also barriers for SMEs in terms of networking and collaboration
  • recommendations to policy makers – help with promotion and marketing campaigns, education of health and environmental benefits, supportive market environment needed for development of local food (less red tape, bureaucracy) e.g. procurement initiatives – open routes to market, tailored support programmes, mentoring and business support, encourage network development, representative trade association specifically for small producers (reduce isolation)
  • outputs of project – report to ARD committee, working with NI DARD on a rural development programme, drafting a local authority local food policy with potential actions for NI councils
  • created a good practice guide with examples of successful policy initiatives and company practices, examples below

Jarina, Slovenia – “the actor of local food self sufficiency” – not for profit cooperative connecting 100 plus producers with schools and public sector organisations.

SEED Food and Fisheries programme, NI – local council collaboration – see http://www.newryandmournedc.gov.uk/business/SEEDProgrammes.aspx and http://www.findgoodlocalfood.com/

vicTualia, Sweden – platform for local food, developing entrepreneurship, sales and marketing and networking

Contest Agora, Bulgaria – promoting local food through tourism and a national competition

  • key success factors for food SMEs – working towards a range of co-benefits, value network working, admin and funding support from govt, value trade name, identify and engage key stakeholders, build relationships and facilitate new initiatives – a joined up approach

Amber Cully – Drumchapel LifeFlat Pack Meals (key speaker)

Drumchapel LIFE is a health and well-being charity, Flat Pack meals is one of their services – funding through CCA and Big Lottery. Initially wanted to set up as a social enterprise and have a shop front, focus on sustainable jobs for vulnerable women in the area – but shop costs prohibitive so now volunteer led with one staff member from DL.

They purchase and pack goods to sell in Drumchapel area- meal bags and soup bags (salad, bread and pizza bags coming soon). Low income families able to purchase fresh healthy food to cook themselves rather than relying on frozen or fast food.

Working with Neilston/Locavore farm to source veg when possible – want to source more local/sustainable produce if possible. Environmentally conscious as well as bringing health and social benefits through project. but logistics can be difficult with sourcing. e.g. talking to local community gardens but they can’t commit to producing on that scale.

Pilot with Drumchapel High school – supplying food bags and helping to cook with them – running twice a year – education and increasing customer base.

Volunteer recruitment good but transport a challenge – tight budget but breaking even, looking to diversify and find more funding to grow in future.

Some other thoughts from session:

People often don’t want to take the risk with new food or recipes cos if it goes wrong they don’t have the money to buy something else – flat pack meals have simple recipes which are clearly described – helps take away this fear

Distribution and logistical support holding back from of the community retailers present at the event – need to work better with stakeholders and other retailers to tackle this – similar to some of NI problems

Tension between developing social enterprise and maintaining a low income stream so the people project aiming to help are not excluded

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Interesting event!

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