Food Justice

Innovative new funding scheme awards £60k to help Bristol community projects fight food insecurity

By Bristol Local Food Fund

Bristol Local Food Fund has awarded £60,000 to 18 community food projects across the city using a forward-thinking method called participatory grantmaking to ensure money reaches those most in need.

First conceived during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bristol Local Food Fund aims to create a new and more accessible source of funding for community food projects that are tackling food insecurity in Bristol.

The volunteer team behind the project raised £60,000 through a city-wide crowdfunding campaign which concluded at the end of 2021. The crowdfunder was supported by over 500 donors, with rewards offered by nearly 50 Bristol food businesses, including Harts Bakery, Better Food, Wiper and True, Bristol Squeezed and Essential Trading. The campaign was also boosted by some larger donations, including a £10,000 match-fund from Bristol-based law firm Burges Salmon.

At the heart of the fund is its use of participatory grantmaking (PGM), which gives decision-making power on how and where the grants are distributed to people who have direct lived experience of food insecurity.

To deliver this, Bristol Local Food Fund recruited a Citizens Panel of people with lived experience of food insecurity. The panel developed the fund criteria, reviewed the applications and made the final funding decisions. The panel met five times in total, including two decision meetings where the 18 grantees were chosen.

Applications were open for six weeks between October and November 2022, with 41 applications received, seeking £178,000 of funding. The 18 funded projects received their grants in December 2022, which were administered by Quartet Community Foundation.

Priority for the funding was given to community food projects working in wards and communities that experience the highest levels of food insecurity, such as Hartcliffe & Withywood (19% of funds awarded), Hengrove & Whitchurch Park (14%), Lawrence Hill (14%), Ashley (10%), Filwood (8%), Southmead (8%), and Lockleaze (5%).

Funded projects include:

Knowle West Health Association were awarded £5,000 to fund the equipment and ingredients required to run a year’s worth of community cookery classes in their Community Kitchen on Filwood Broadway.

APE Project CIC, which manages St Pauls Adventure Playground, received £5,000 to support their Food for Thought programme, assisting with provision of free, freshly cooked hot meals to children who attend the playground, as well as learning to sow, grow and prepare fresh vegetables grown in their community garden.

Travelling Kitchen CIC received £4,960 to host a series of “community cook-ups” in Southmead to share cooking skills, batch cook take-away meals and address isolation with a shared lunch.

Caring in Bristol received £4,100 toward the Bristol Goods project, a pop-up food shop operating in Hartcliffe and Withywood providing affordable healthy food, independent living skills and additional support to people on low incomes or at risk of homelessness. Attendees pay £3.50, or as much as they can afford and receive £20 of groceries. The project also provides additional services such as support with housing issues or mental health difficulties.

Bristol Somali Youth Voice, working with young people of Somali heritage across Bristol, received £2,000 to deliver educational workshops on food budgeting, reducing food waste, healthy eating and accessing good quality, nutritional food.

Organisers are now exploring opportunities with Bristol’s food and business community to grow the fund and help make a positive long-term impact on food insecurity in Bristol.

Founder of the Bristol Local Food Fund scheme, Michael Lloyd-Jones said: “It’s wonderful to see the first round of funding going out to some fantastic community food projects. The need for this kind of support has only grown over the last 18 months with the cost of living crisis driving food insecurity to unprecedented levels. We hope this is just the beginning.”

Lucy Gilbert, Head of Research & Learning at Quartet Community Foundation said: “It’s been exciting to work with BLFF on a participatory process that works for communities most in need. Our Citizens Panel brought unique knowledge and experience, and we feel it has resulted in a really valuable grant programme, supporting things that lots of funders won’t, like core costs.”

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