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Food Poverty: Feeding Bristol 03/10/2017, Health & Lifestyle

Back in July, I attended a meeting that highlighted the depth of the issue of food poverty in Bristol. I was particularly struck by the uncomfortable truth that despite Bristol being the third wealthiest city in the UK – itself the fifth richest economy on Earth - 1 in 4 children in the city are below the food poverty line.

And it’s not only children; there are literally tens of thousands of people in the city who are not enjoying the regular access to fresh healthy food that so many of us take for granted each day. Are we at a tipping point? Experts who are running programs on the ground have told me they have observed more and more children turning up at groups asking ‘what is there to eat?’ rather than ‘what is there to do?’.

In July, I committed to do something about it. Since then, I have:

  • Attended three working group meetings hosted by Bristol City Councillors and agency experts and listened to understand what’s working and what’s not working to address the issue across Bristol.
  • Offered up fresh-range to be part of the solution: Our company purpose is “…to provide exceptional food experiences and develop food security for generations to come.”
  • Joined the Feeding Bristol Steering Group chaired by Andy Street (Chair of FareShare Southwest) and sit alongside other city people (including MP Kerry McCarthy) trying to make positive change happen. I attended my first meeting this week.
  • Offered my support to the delivery of five key strategic priorities to address the root causes of Food Poverty in Bristol.
  • Raised the issue of Food Poverty in the West of England Food Procurement Group and asked for the group’s engagement to support in the future procurement of resources.
  • Fresh-range delivered fresh fruit and vegetables, salads and meats to a group of 90+ children over the summer holiday taking part in a “Fit & Fed Program”.

It’s a start, but to be honest, we are barely scratching the surface yet. It’s not only Bristol where we need to work either, I am committed to bringing what Bristol are doing to the rest of the West of England too.  The size of the task to address what is such an enormously complex and serious issue is intimidating but, I have confidence that the Steering Group is heading in the right direction, there is a cross party parliamentary committee looking at how to address the issues nationally, and there is momentum gathering to address the issue. Now, really is the moment to act.

I’ll continue to report on progress here. If you’d like to lend your support have ideas or want to comment please feel free to email the team here directly

Rich Osborn
Founder and director, fresh-range