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Minister visits Cardiff project funded by Welsh Government Food Poverty Grant

Yesterday, (Thursday, February 3rd), Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice visited the Dusty Forge Pantry in Cardiff to learn more about a number of initiatives that have made possible thanks to funding from the Welsh Government’s Food Poverty Grant – a scheme introduced to help local authorities and organisations work together to tackle food poverty and food insecurity.

The Minister attended a Community Food Retail Network meeting convened by Food Cardiff and was also given a tour the community centre, including the Local Pantry and Community Café, as well as having the opportunity to speak to members of the network.

Food Cardiff, the city’s local food partnership, has been awarded £150,000 from the Food Poverty Grant to help develop, deliver and add capacity to a range of engaging food-based projects, with the Community Food Retail Network being one of the schemes supported by the fund. 

The aim of the Food Poverty Grant is to address food issues in a more sustainable way and to see organisations working with local and regional partners to meet the specific needs of their communities. The grant that Food Cardiff has been allocated will help to increase access to affordable, healthy food and will better equip people living in Cardiff with the skills, knowledge and confidence to lead healthy, sustainable lives. By doing this, Food Cardiff – a member of the Sustainable Food Places network – aims to support people who are having difficulty accessing food and also helping to prevent more falling into food poverty or food insecurity.

“We are so pleased and grateful to have been one of the organisations to have benefited from the Welsh Government’s Food Poverty Grant,” says Pearl Costello, Sustainable Food Places co-ordinator at Food Cardiff.   

“Food Cardiff already delivers and facilitates a range of food-related initiatives in the city that focus on healthy eating and sustainable food, as well as helping Cardiff’s most vulnerable citizens to access good quality, nutritious food.  What this funding has allowed us to do is to take a co-ordinated approach, working with a number of partners in Cardiff to maximise the effectiveness of the project and to develop long-lasting, sustainable capacity and infrastructure. We’re focusing on building the number of community food projects; helping to develop local supply chains to alleviate food insecurity as well as encouraging participation in a range of good food projects. 

During her visit Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice learnt more about the work of the wider project as well as hearing about the impact of the Community Food Retail Network. 

Facilitated by Food Cardiff, the network brings together 28 individuals from projects including Your Local Pantries, Food Co-ops, FOOD Clubs, Big Bocs Bwyd, Community Fridges, alongside partners like Cardiff Third Sector Council, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff & Vale Health Board and Fareshare Cymru.

The network helps projects to share knowledge and resources and to work together to co-ordinate action across the city, through various means, such as sharing best practice; creating a collective map or directory of projects; developing additional local supply chains; creating a training package for developing and new projects, and by offering peer mentoring between projects.  The network has also developed a handbook highlighting the different retail models available and including case studies of projects set up in Cardiff. Cardiff case studies:

The Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, said: “I am delighted to see first-hand the excellent work that the Welsh Government’s Food Poverty Grant has been able to support. We’re determined that the funding should support action which not only helps tackle food poverty and food insecurity – but also projects that take a longer term view and focus on activity that tackles the root causes of poverty.  Food Cardiff has been able to collaborate with existing networks and partnerships to put that ethos into practice with its project here at the Dusty Forge.

The Pantry and Café here have a real sense of community, supporting local people to source and prepare good nutritious food locally with a focus on prevention and sustainable solutions.”

Sam Froud-Powell, Community Support Co-ordinator at ACE (Action in Caerau and Ely) said: “Working together with other community food projects has been a massive support, helping the Dusty Forge Pantry grow into a successful project tackling food poverty in Ely and Caerau.  Our Pantry members and volunteers benefit from training opportunities and support to access a wider range of healthy food from business and community growers.  Working with the Food Cardiff network means we feel part of a growing good food movement in the city, enabling us to share ideas and inspiration with others.”

Food Cardiff aims to create a healthy, sustainable local food system that helps tackle food insecurity. The Food Cardiff partnership is currently made up of more than 200 individuals from over 90 organisations and engages with thousands of people across Cardiff through its website, newsletters and social media.  As one of the founding members of the Sustainable Food Places network, Food Cardiff has helped to pioneer a placed based collaborative approach to food. It was recently awarded Silver Sustainable Food Places status, becoming the first place in Wales and one of only six places in the UK to achieve the prestigious accolade, recognising the city’s pioneering work in promoting healthy and sustainable food and showing the positive impact of people, communities, organisations and business working together to drive change.

As well as helping to build the capacity of community food projects through initiatives such as the Community Food Retail Network; the Food Poverty Grant is also supporting Food Cardiff to develop local supply chains to alleviate food insecurity.  One of the ways it plans to do this is by purchasing a refrigerated electric van manned by volunteers to distribute excess produce grown on allotments, community gardens and from local producers to community food projects. 

Food Cardiff is also being supported to encourage people to take part in good food projects and looks forward to relaunching as an information hub for good food.  It will also host an extensive toolkit of resources, food-related advice, promoting local support services and opportunities to help people move out of food insecurity and take positive steps towards building healthier lifestyles.

“Whilst all of these projects can be delivered in isolation, the Food Cardiff Partnership believes that taking a co-ordinated and collaborative approach will have an even greater impact,” adds Pearl Costello.  “These projects also help us to explore the root causes and contributing factors to food insecurity which will then help us to be better placed to reduce and overcome these issues across the city.”