In the current climate of recession, unemployment and the governments welfare reforms, people and families are finding it harder and harder to put food on the table. What food they can get is often not the best and most nutritious – it’s what is the cheapest and can fill you up.
Food banks are springing up all over the country and many groups are discussing and organising ways to address this major issue. Edinburgh University student Katie Roberts from Pollinate has been carrying out a food poverty dissertation project with support from local people and has been holding meetings to look at the effects of food poverty and its causes.
Some of the points that have been raised in these discussion so far highlighted many reasons why food was so important. A few of the main points are
- · Food has a huge impact on health, both mental and physical.
- · Bad food makes us tired and ill, and there seems to be rising levels of nutritional deficiencies, obesity and other health conditions
- · There seems to be a lack of financial and physical access to good food
- · The cost of food is being balanced against other needs like heating and electricity
- · Food can connect us, through growing, community events and everyday meal times
- · Cooking and meal times can help structure the day
- · Food is a symbol of class division, and different diets reflect inequality
- · Our current food system is contributing to climate change and other environmental problems
When this project is completed, the findings will be fed back to relevant agencies and people involved in food poverty.
Another local project is Edible Estates http://www.edibleestates.co.uk/neighbourhoods/whee/. Led by Greig Robertson, this programme funded by the Climate Challenge Fund aims to encourage local people in parts of Wester Hailes and surrounding areas to grow and maintain areas to produce their own vegetables. Edible Estates are working the Wester Hailes Health Agency Green Gym garden group as well as other community garden groups and schools in the area.
Another group Nourish Scotland http://www.nourishscotland.org.uk/ held a 2 day Food Poverty conference at Queen Margaret University in September, attended by people from various groups and organisations; farmers, food co-ops, politicians. Discussion groups were created to listen to and talk to people about their methods, projects and thoughts on addressing food issues in Scotland and the UK.
12 witnesses spoke about food issues and food poverty, stories which were powerful and thought provoking. Discussion groups came up with plans for the year 2023 on how to address not just food poverty but feeding people with healthy sustainable food and a proper organic food growing system. All of the plans and discussions were recorded and will be available on the Nourish Scotland site and on YouTube. There is currently one presentation (here).
Nourish Scotland held a meeting a few weeks later in Edinburgh to discuss the Scottish Government report on the effects of global warming and prepare an answer on this. Nourish feel this report does not address the effect global warming would have on food production and supply. Reports produced from the sessions held at this meeting and some of the presentations made at the conference are here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bi9thdqk5jjgr3h/oF6gjKDeOz
Nourish in association with the City of Edinburgh Council will be holding an event in Edinburgh in October called Feed The 5000. Food that would not normally be sent to shops will be gathered from various sources and used to cook for as many people as come to the event http://www.fedaga.org.uk/node/820
Holy Trinity Church here in Wester Hailes provides a food bank service and cheap breakfasts and lunches 3 days a week.