Eating Better

Food education: why connection is activism

By Sophie Jackson

Bristol Food Network volunteer Sophie Jackson launches a new series on this blog, showcasing community cooking projects across Bristol. The first is about the wonderful charity Square Food Foundation.

It is easy to overlook the importance of our food system, however, food is part of the social fabric that connects us all, and to highlight the importance of what is on our plates, I will be talking to the wonderful people across the Bristol area, who have made it their mission to connect communities through the joy that food is.

To kickstart this series, I spoke to Barny Haughton and Dan Ford from the Square Food Foundation about the work that they are doing.

Activism in action

Barny and Dan from the Square Food Foundation are not only chefs and teachers but activists within the community who are fostering connections and a wider understanding of the food system across Bristol. From food leadership programmes empowering leaders to improve cooking literacy across their communities, to upskilling families through the distribution of recipe kits through schools and food clubs, the Square Food Foundation is taking local action against the national issue of food insecurity and health illiteracy.

“Food education is activism of a kind.”


The Square Food Foundation take a holistic approach to supporting the community, by using food – the one thing that connects us all – as a vehicle for change. In response to a changing landscape since the pandemic, the team have focused on increasing their outreach through creating follow-a-long cooking kits for at home use. These recipe kits are distributed through schools and food clubs, including some staple ingredients, and recipe cards with energy-saving tips and tricks, as well as contextualised advice on how to eat well in a system that promotes convenience over nutrition, within the cost-of-living crisis.

Their approach to changing the way we think about food relies on a fundamental understanding of what we eat, how we eat, and where we get food from. Holistically, the Square Food Foundation propose a social change in the valuations of health, and our food system, by encouraging a cross-curricular and interdependent approach towards health and wellbeing.

What actions can we take?

After an in-depth chat with Barny and Dan about what actions we can take to support the work of the Square Food Foundation, their answer to this question was to have a conversation.

Dan and Barny highlighted the importance of understanding the wider issues of our food system in relation to our everyday eating habits. Having conversations about the wider impact of food on our health and our society’s health, helps to foster a connection between us, our food, and those around us.

To get started in thinking about the wider impact of food, ask yourself, and those around you:

* Where do we get our food from?
* What systems do we rely on to get our food?
* What can we do to support people in our communities who are affected by food insecurity?

Yes, core funding is needed for work like this to continue, so donations to the Square Food Foundation charity are always welcome! However, the most impactful way you can take action to support this work is by having meaningful conversations about the importance of a sustainable food system. The work that the Square Food Foundation is doing transcends the simplicity of merely addressing the food on our plates. By harnessing the use of food as a connector, the Square Food Foundation’s work not only has an immediate impact in spreading the joy that food brings, but strives to have a withstanding impact within our communities, and more widely within the social framework of how we value food, and health.

Support Barny, Dan, and the wider team at the Square Food Foundation to create a space where we can reconnect to what connects us all – through the joy that is food.

Learn more about their wonderful work in our communities on the Square Food Foundation website.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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