Good Food Governance

South Glos Food Alliance: Bringing together food aid projects

By Louise Delmege

Louise Delmege

Louise Delmege, who works as both Partnership Coordinator at Bristol Good Food 2030 and as South Glos Food Alliance Coordinator, meets with some of the organisations involved in the South Glos Food Alliance, shining a light on food projects north of the city.

South Gloucestershire is just getting started on its food partnership journey. Though there are farms and growing spaces aplenty in the area there’s little communication and collaboration about food. Taking the first steps towards a South Gloucestershire Food Partnership is the South Glos Food Alliance.

Formed after the explosion in food aid projects during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the Alliance brings together a number of different food aid projects so that we can share advice, resources and support for one another. As the Alliance grows we’ve started to include some growing projects as well as eating ones. Next we’re hoping to connect with some local agro-ecological farms.  

For now, hear from a few of our members – Aura Ion Foundation, Feeding Fromeside, Frome Valley Growing Project, One Planet Matters and Staple Hill Community Hub:

Aura Ion Foundation

Volunteers serving food at a free community food event organised by The Aura Ion Foundation along with Southern Brooks, Sovereign Housing and Avon Indian Community Association.

“The resources and opportunities made available to us, such as interactive workshops and training/up-skilling opportunities, have been invaluable in our efforts to address food insecurity and promote sustainability in our community. The sharing of support and funding advice between Food Alliance members has been especially impactful.”

Pete Knight, Operations Director at Aura Ion Foundation sums up what the Alliance offers

The Aura Ion Foundation works alongside communities to remove barriers to education, alleviate poverty, hunger, and distress. With a focus on grassroots initiatives, the projects are dedicated to empowering young people and their families by providing them with the resources they need to create a sustainable future out of poverty. With support from the South Glos Food Alliance, the Bristol ‘Aura’s Essentials’ project has made a significant impact in raising awareness about food insecurity in Patchway and Charlton Hayes. The project resulted in an in-depth household food insecurity survey that produced a highly detailed report. The report was presented to community groups, local housing associations, and the local MP, potentially leading to new projects aimed at addressing food insecurity in the area. 

Recently, the Aura Ion Foundation organised a free community food event to target those identified as being at high risk of food insecurity. Along with Southern Brooks, Sovereign Housing and Avon Indian Community Association, they provided over 130 free hot meals, refreshments, and more than 60 portions of chips. The community was able to access local groups and talk to them directly over food, making it a successful and meaningful experience for everyone involved. One of the participants said, “I never expected to be able to enjoy such a feast for free, even given a few meals to take home”. The success of this event has led to plans for a larger outdoor free Food Festival in Summer 2023, which will provide even more resources and support to those in need. The sharing of support and funding advice between Food Alliance members has been especially impactful, as it has enabled The Aura Ion Foundation to identify potential new funding avenues that we may not have otherwise considered.

Feeding Fromeside

Tins of food in the Feeding Fromeside food hub

“My name is Beth and I am a Member Pioneer of the Co-op Store in Winterbourne. I have been involved with a great new local project ‘Feeding Fromeside’ which is based at the Zion Church in Frampton Cotterell. It was set up by an amazing duo Zoe and Kate to help with the fuel crisis. 
There are a big group of volunteers who come every week to man the café ‘The Vine’, and help hand out food parcels if needed.  

“It’s been a huge privilege to be a part of it. My role has centred around acting as a catalyst between the store and the café to set up the foodshare and set up a tub in the store for donations. I have loved being a part of this – it’s helped so many people in the community. It’s great to know how food that would otherwise be wasted is being used to make soup and a hot meal for the café, and given out each week. It’s making a big difference. I really enjoy attending the Zoom sessions with the Alliance each month, hearing about each others’ stories and sharing ideas.”

Participants at the Frome Valley Growing Project

Frome Valley Growing Project

Kate Macdonald from From Valley Growing Project explained the project’s aims: “We are a community project that uses permaculture design and growing principles to grow food for our members and the local community. We also provide biodiverse spaces for the more-than-human world who we share the land with. We are particularly passionate about saving heritage seed and trees and involving intergenerational community members on our site.”

Bridget aged 19 said, “I came to the grow project after the first lockdown in the summer. I was searching for a safe outdoor space where I could connect more with the natural, green spaces around me and the community that depends on those spaces. The grow project completely facilitated a new stage of growth in my life, nurtured a deep love for the more than human world and provided a safe space for me to go to where I felt valued, heard and part of a community.”

Surplus from Frome Valley Growing Project, which is a partner project with One Planet Matters

One Planet Matters

Kevin Thomas, Director at One Planet Matters said, “One Planet Matters was set up to create environmental and social change. The environmental work is focused on our community orchard and biodiversity work as well as our Schools Network. We have mapped all the community orchards in South Gloucestershire which will provide an abundance of community fruit, and community juicing opportunities. The work we have been doing in supporting communities and schools create orchards in conjunction with existing community orchards will provide an abundance of community fruit that will support local people but also feed into our Growing Communities Network.

“Our ‘Community Volunteers’ pick up surplus food from our locations, community growers, allotments, households, and free food locations and deliver them to local food clubs, community kitchens, community fridges, and food banks. We have developed an app which identifies collection points, and more importantly times and locations for delivery which is critical in ensuring that food banks and other recipients receive the produce at a time that ensures that the maximum number of people benefit from the surplus, and that none is left over. This is the community supporting the community. It is circular, local, and incredibly powerful in showing what working together can do.”

Staple Hill Community Hub

“Staple Hill Community Hub provides resources and practical support for local people, many of whom are the most vulnerable and isolated in our community” said trustee Angela Bragg. “Our volunteers have years of experience delivering a wide range of support to those in need. Hub users have somewhere safe they can come and feel part of their community. We support people who are in most need, specifically people with learning difficulties, mental health problems, the isolated elderly, the un-employed and anyone else who needs us.  

“On this large estate we offer a safe environment where people can meet, join in activities, make new friends, learn new skills and achieve a sense of belonging. We run lunch clubs at heavily subsidised prices benefiting those on low incomes and those who for various reasons are unable to cook for themselves. We have recently started a young people’s gardening club – teaching them about plants, how to grow them and look after them. A new group to include adults is just beginning. During this period of financial instability, we have opened our rooms to welcome residents who need a warm and welcoming environment and are offering them the kitchen facilities we have in order to cook their own family meals whilst keeping warm, finding support and making friends.”

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