How A Housing Association Is Tackling Food Insecurity
Over the last 18 months Torus Foundation, the North West’s largest affordable homes provider, has been supporting vulnerable tenants who have been affected by food insecurity throughout COVID and beyond. Torus Foundation has always offered emergency food provision to their tenants, but like all providers, they saw an exponential increase in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and worked to identify and deliver weekly food hampers, offering tailored support for each tenant. For example:
- Halal options for tenants following a halal diet
- Food items suited for diabetic restrictions
- New kitchen appliances for tenants that had no access to an oven or a microwave
- Tailoring food packages based on their amenities, whilst our financial inclusion team sourced new kitchen appliances.
The Domino effect – Leo’s story
Leo is a tenant who has an addiction and also has schizophrenia. He hasn’t worked for some time due to his mental health and budgeting on his benefits has proven difficult. A recent further complication in his health has resulted in him spending a large proportion of his budget on taxis to the hospital. He had no money for food and hadn’t eaten for 4 days when he received a food hamper. This cycle is seen so often, starting with one triggering factor that then creates a domino effect impacting other aspects of a person’s life and resulting in food poverty.
Torus Foundation are supporting the roll out of a food pantry network in South Liverpool and are exploring ways they can tackle the cause at the root. Their approach could involve a number of their teams to provide holistic support to people experiencing food insecurity; including financial inclusion, digital inclusion, employment, and health and wellbeing.
A dedicated Food Insecurity programme lead at Torus Foundation works closely with colleagues in the wider foundation to tackle food security issues. In the first stages of their COVID emergency food provision, their work was supported by a Steve Morgan Foundation fund which they used to purchase stock for the package content. They also had an immense amount of support from FareShare, who waived membership fees for a significant number of months for all of their members and also donated additional pallets of food on a weekly basis and allowed us to provide fresh fruit and vegetables as part of our packages. After the fund ran out they funded the rest of the provision themselves. Thankfully their weekly FareShare delivery allowed them to provide fresh produce in their packages, including fresh fruit and vegetables.
We have an important role to play as housing providers. Many tenants see us as a first port of call, they trust us and when necessary we provide immediate crisis support and/or signpost to other support avenues available. If an organisation has the means to be supporting vulnerable groups struggling in food insecurity, then it is vital that they offer a support provision to provide both an instant solution (temporary) and further support, leading to more sustainable and long term resolution. Ideally signposting individuals to the necessary support available to them in order to address the triggering factor/s.”
Liz Boyle, Food Security Team Leader, Torus Foundation