Category: Blog

‘A Lifeline To Our Families’: Kinship Carers Project Report

Kinship care occurs when a child or young person lives full-time with a relative or family friend as a result of not being able to live with their birth parents, which is the case for thousands of people. Kinship carers are important members of the community: many grandparents, relatives and family friends are dedicated to bringing up others’ children who may otherwise be in local authority care, providing them with a safe home and keeping the family together.

Kinship care is essential, as it provides children in this circumstance with a sense of continuity and stability. Indeed, by allowing children to stay in a familiar environment and maintain their cultural and familial connections, their emotional and psychological well-being remains supported. As such, kinship carers provide not only a home, but also the continuation of family traditions and support – all of which are essential for a child’s development.

Kinship Carers Liverpool – based at Ellergreen Children’s Centre in Norris Green – was initially established as a registered charity in 1996 and naturally developed into a Kinship Project after identifying that many families they worked with were in the process of taking on full-time care of their grandchildren. The project has since seen younger kin carers attend, who have taken on this role for reasons varying from bereavement, chaotic lifestyles, substance misuse to imprisonment.

Kinship Carers Liverpool wishes to support anyone who lives within a kinship household, offering a number of different services for families from all walks of life and at different stages of their journey. This support includes:

  • Having experienced team members to speak to
  • Help and advice in regard to concerns and issues relating to caring for a kin child
  • Signposting to helpful and relevant services
  • Free activity programmes
  • Connections with other kinship families

In addition to direct support, Kinship Carers Liverpool actively engages in numerous campaigns, lobbies and research projects in order to ensure better support for kinship families. The families they work with have been key to this work, having been empowered to ensure their voices are heard and their lived experience is shared to bring about the change needed to meet their needs. Kinship Carers Liverpool are also an active member of the Kinship Care Alliance: this is a group of organisations that subscribe to a set of shared beliefs on the issue of family and friends care, and meet regularly to agree on strategies to promote their aims.

For the last six months, Feeding Liverpool has been working with Kinship Carers Liverpool to support between 30 and 40 kinship families each week by providing them with fresh fruit and vegetables.

This project began in December 2023, after the need for additional support for Kinship Carers was identified by Liverpool’s Healthy Start working group and the Good Food Taskforce; it forms part of Feeding Liverpool’s Healthy Boost Project, which seeks to improve access to good food for those who are at risk of food insecurity.

This report shares the difference Kinship Carers Liverpool’s project with Feeding Liverpool has made to the families who attend the centre – namely, with between 30 and 40 kinship families being provided with fresh fruit and vegetable bags each week – by drawing on case studies and information provided by those who benefit from this initiative and those who operate it.

You can read the Kinship Carers Report here.

More Than Food: Older People And Community Food Spaces Report

Food insecurity is defined as ‘lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth, development and an active and healthy life.’ In Liverpool, one in three adults are food insecure – worrying about how they will afford food, reducing both the quality and quantity of food they are eating and, in some cases, even skipping meals and going hungry. The cold weather – combined with the rising costs of food and energy – has made this winter particularly challenging.

For Liverpool’s older residents, this is a sobering reality. Around 1.7 million pensioners in the UK are living in poverty, with rates of deep poverty also steadily increasing and currently standing at 8% for this group. While financial difficulties are typically considered the main driver of food insecurity in younger age groups and amongst families, food insecurity in older people is much more complex.

Older people are dispropotionately affected by malnutrition, with an estimation of as many as 1 in 10 people over 65 at risk. Malnutrition can play a role in causing a variety of co-morbidities and loss of indepence in older people, contributing to a loss of energy, muscle strength and coordination which in turn can lead to falls, difficulty with shopping, cooking, eating and self-care. Medical, physical and social risk not only contribute to malnutrition but often intersect, creating a vicious cycle:

  • Medical conditions and certain medications can lead to a loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss and difficulties in both making and eating food
  • Social factors such as bereavement, social isolation, loneliness and attitudes towards nutrition and weight can affect am individual’s interest in food and their motivation to eat

These factors tend to have a cumulative effect and increase in presence as people age. Although the older generation adapt in order to mitigate these issues, all it takes is an accumulation of seemingly trivial everyday problems such as lack of seating or reduced public transportation to make people increasingly vulnerable to food insecurity.

It is in these circumstances that community food spaces can make a hge difference. Community food spaces are commonly led by local community members and organisations who have good food at the heart of their work, with many initiatives also connecting people who use their service to activities and support beyond food provision. They also play a large part in tackling local food waste by using surplus food that would otherwise have gone to landfill. Such organisations in Liverpool have been credited for being more than just a place where individuals can access affordable, nutritious food. Indeed, these spaces have been praised for building a strong community that provides both support and connection to those who are in need. With operations such as this exisiting all across the city, it is possible to assess them in order to gain an insight into the role they play in providing support to older people beyond just their food provision.

Feeding Liverpool have written a report that illustrates the multi-faceted nature of community food spaces and highlights their ability to help older adults in a variety of ways beyond just food provision. This is especially important when the complexities of food insecutiy among the elderly are considered; there are numerous transitions that occur later in a person’s life that demand forms of adjustment and adaptation in order to cope with the challenges these present. In order to mitigate these issues, older people can often find themselves dependent on multiple support systems – of which community food spaces can be one.

The report finds that community food spaces are welcoming organisations, run by members of the community for those in the area. While they work to address people’s immediate food needs, they also serve to build a more sustainable and healthy community for the long-term. Indeed, these spaces have the potential to tackle social isolation, allow people to learn new skills, enhance mental and physical wellbeing, and knit neighbourhoods together – particularly thorugh intergenerational relationships.

You can read the report here.

Queen of Greens Recipe Book

The Queen of Greens Bus is a mobile greengrocer that brings affordable fresh fruit and vegetables to 40 stops across Liverpool and Knowsley. Run by Feeding Liverpool and Alchemic Kitech, the initiative aims to boost access to healthy food and help tackle health inequalities by providing people with a better opportunity to shop for nutritious food closer to their home or workplace.

As the bus’s produce is collected from Liverpool’s wholesale market each morning, the greengrocers are able to offer competitive prices for the food items provided, also selling the produce loose in order to cut down on both waste and packaging. The bus also allows for multiple payment methods, taking into account the fact that a significant proportion of customers receive government Healthy Start Cards and/or Alexandra Rose Charity vouchers. A lot of customers at the primary schools, children centres and hospitals that the bus stops at have young children and appreciate that the bus allows them to buy items that would otherwise be too expensive to get and that also lasts longer than the produce available at the supermarket.

Aside from selling, greengrocer Paul also uses his 40 years of experience in the fruit and veg business to offer cooking tips and encourage customers to discover different food varieties, often opening up food on the bus for customers to sample. This feeds into the sense of community that the bus fosters: a lot of people who use the bus look forward to coming to their stop as it allows them to meet other people in the same situation as themselves, often sharing their cooking ideas and getting to know each other through a shared love of food.

With the aim of making healthy eating more available both physically and financially, we have created a Queen of Greens Recipe Book, which features 5 nutritious and delicious meal that can be cooked easily with the whole family from fruit and vegetables found on the bus.

The book includes recipes for Vegetarian Fajitas, Spinach and Sweet Potato Dhal, Slow Cooker Veg Lasagne and Italian Veggie Cottage Pie.

Click here to learn more about the Queen of Greens Bus and view its current timetable.

Follow the Queen of Greens on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Do you have a recipe that you would like to share with us? Email Antonia with details.

Our Response to the Chancellor’s Decision to Extend the Household Support Fund

Over the last few months, local and national news outlets have reported on the difference the Household Support Fund has made across our city. For the last two and a half years this fund has ensured children are well fed during the school holidays, low-income households can receive support with energy costs, Liverpool’s Citizen Support Scheme can continue to support people in a crisis, families with No Recourse to Public Funds and kinship carers can afford fresh fruit and vegetables and Liverpool’s food support spaces remain able to cope with rising demand.

This was not the time to cut off this lifeline of support.

We welcome the news that the Chancellor has extended the Household Support Fund for a further six months.

Extending the fund will not solve the crisis of poverty in our country, but it will provide temporary respite for hundreds of thousands of households across the UK who are still struggling to regularly make ends meet, or do not have the financial reserves to cope when a crisis hits, such as a broken washing machine, loss of a job, funeral costs or an unexpected bill.

As we look beyond the next six months, what is needed are bold policy decisions that will lift households out of poverty, coupled with a well-funded, reliable and permanent form of crisis support.

Let us hope this is the first step towards loosening the grip of poverty on this country.

Please help us secure millions to protect our most vulnerable residents – an open letter to our MPs

Dear Dan Carden MP, Ian Byrne MP, Maria Eagle MP, Kim Johnson MP and Paula Barker MP,

As you know, The Department for Work and Pensions’ Household Support Fund is extra money given to councils to support residents with the cost of essentials like food and energy. It was first launched on 6 October 2021, has been extended several times and it’s worth £2 billion over its lifetime. It has become a lifeline for our council to be able to support our most vulnerable residents and for projects in our food emergency network to be able to support people to access healthy food.

Over 2023/24, the fund has brought an additional £12.1 million to Liverpool City Council.

This fund is central to much of the work of Feeding Liverpool and partner organisations across the city who are tackling food insecurity.

The Household Support Fund has enabled Feeding Liverpool to:

  • Financially support over 70 organisations in the city who are providing food support through foodbanks, community food spaces and community meals. This funding is vital to enable these services to cope with the increased demand they are currently experiencing due to the cost-of-living crisis. Together these organisations provide over 2100 emergency food parcels every week, alongside 5000 visits to community food spaces and 2200 community meals. Over 60% of all funding for food support in the city was identified as having come via the Household Support Fund, with 1/3 of food support organisations saying they were concerned about their stability in the year ahead. A loss to this funding would put many food support organisations at risk, and therefore significantly impact their ability to support people who are facing a crisis in the future.
  • Begin a new programme of work, the Healthy Boost, which we launched only a few weeks ago in partnership with Liverpool City Council Public Health team. Though this project we are supporting approximately 285 families at risk of acute food insecurity, including 150 pregnant women and families with small children who have No Recourse to Public Funds, 85 pregnant women and families with small children on a low income and 50 kinship carers who are all at risk of acute food insecurity.
  • Run the Winter Boost project once again, boosting emergency food parcels with fresh produce this winter, this supported over 7,000 households in acute food insecurity last year.

Furthermore, the wider fund has enabled the city to deliver vital support via, for example, the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme, energy vouchers for residents on a low income, supermarket vouchers for families during the school holidays who usually receive free school meals and targeted support for care leavers, pensioners and asylum seekers.

At present there is no confirmation that it will be extended beyond March 2024. It is unthinkable to imagine a near future without this extra money at a time when our frontline services are experiencing the most demand, with over 2100 emergency food parcels being distributed every week in Liverpool.

I am urging you to write to the Work and Pensions Secretary and ask them to renew the Household Support Fund for the next financial year and preferably as a multi-year fund tracking inflation. Councils need to be able to know if this is being extended next year as a matter of urgency. The short-term nature of the fund does not allow for long term planning.

Our council needs to continue to have flexibility in terms of how they allocate funds, in order to meet our local communities’ needs and priorities.

Yours sincerely

Dr Naomi Maynard

Director of Feeding Liverpool

On behalf of 71 food support organisations in Liverpool

Children’s health should not be a postcode lottery

By Dr Naomi Maynard, Good Food Programme Director

As a parent, if we have free school meals you would know your child has had access to a hot meal at lunch…they are nutritious meals and they’re being well fed, so if money is tight, its ok if I give them beans for tea because I know they’ve had a meal at school.

Kallie, Feeding Liverpool activist and mum from Clubmoor

Earlier in the year Kallie – who is championing free school meals for all – spoke to me about the difference free school meals would make to her household. Kallie is a mum and grandmother, she volunteers at her local pantry. She and her husband both work part-time but like so many working families money is tight.

Yesterday we heard that primary-school children in London will receive free school meals from September 2023 for at least the next year, as an emergency measure unveiled by Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London.  Funded by additional business rates income, it is estimated the move will help around 270,000 primary school pupils and save families around £440 per child.

Thousands of families who are living in poverty across London will be rejoicing, knowing at least one pressure point on their household’s budget will be eased next year. There will also be benefits for the future, Free School Meals have been shown to boost educational attainment and attendance and in the long term increase a child’s lifetime earnings. We also know they have long term health benefits, improving the quality of children’s diets and combatting childhood obesity.

So a moment of celebration? There will be free school meals for primary school children in Scotland, Wales and London. This is great news and certainly a win for the Food Foundation, School Food Matter’s and BiteBack 2030’s Feed the Future campaign. But thousands of children living in poverty in Liverpool (and elsewhere in England) are still missing out. Our children’s health should not be a postcode lottery.

And so further action is needed, and fast. As Anna Taylor from the Food Foundation has said:

Government now has the opportunity to deliver on its levelling up promises by addressing the inequalities inherent in our Free School Meal system.  We need funding in the next budget that levels the playing field, so at the very least all children living in poverty across England are guaranteed a daily nutritious meal at school – not just as an emergency one-year measure but as an integral long-term provision in our state school system.

To found out more about the Feed the Future campaign visit:

Food price rises: squeezing budgets in all directions

By Dr Naomi Maynard, Good Food Programme Director, Feeding Liverpool

We can all see it at the check-out, food prices are continuing to rise. So perhaps the data released today showing that annual food inflation is now at 11.6% – the fastest rise on record – is no surprise, but for our network of emergency food providers and community food spaces, and the people they serve, it crystallizes what has already become a painful and worrying reality.

Foodbank use across the city continues to rise each month as households who previously were ‘just about managing’ now cannot cope with the triple blow of rises to energy, petrol and food prices – there is simply nothing left to cut in what were already tight budgets. Community food spaces – our city’s pantries, food markets and community shops – are reporting similar trends, as more people look for ways to save money. There has been a notable step-change from residents describing a food pantry as a place you ‘topped up’ your households food shop, to a now relying on the food they get as the basis of their households food that week.

For some foodbanks, the drop in donations has led them to rely on funding to bulk buying basic items to fill their food parcels, with rising food prices this funding converts into less and less food each week. Micah Liverpool, who now give out about 400 food parcels each week, explained that a few months ago they were bulk buying pasta from a supermarket at 20p for 500g. The supermarket is now no longer stocking this item at that price, meaning they now need to choose a higher priced range of items where 500g of pasta costs over £1.

The thousands of pregnant women and lower-income families with young children in Liverpool who receive support via the Healthy Start Scheme, are also on the sharp end of these rises. The Healthy Start Scheme is a government benefit that has remained static since April 2021 –  with the majority of recipients receiving £4.25 per week (this doubles to £8.50 during the first year of a child’s life). As prices of fruit, vegetables and milk continue to rise, this weekly allowance doesn’t stretch as far, having cumulative long term negative impacts on the health of children and pregnant women in Liverpool.

As I said to Capital news today, I am no economist, nor are many who work and volunteer at the organisations we seek to serve and support. But what we can say and what we said last month collectively with Feeding Britain, the Independent Food Aid Network and the Trussell Trust  is that we are at breaking point. Something needs to change now, before this situation gets worse. Benefits and support payments– including the Healthy Start Scheme and the weekly allowance for Asylum Seekers – needs to be uprated to reflect inflation. The annual inflation statistics are not theoretical numbers, they tell us whether our nan will need to skip a meal today or whether we can give our children a piece of fruit when they come home from school. Change needs to happen now, not in three, six or nine months time.

Why scrapping the obesity strategy won’t solve the cost-of-living crisis and protect low-income households

Nobody can deny that the cost-of-living crisis is placing a significant strain on households to pay for essentials such as energy/heating, travel to work/school and food. Just last week, the soaring price of milk, cheese and eggs has pushed food inflation to its highest level for 14 years.

The situation is now starting to affect the amount of money households can spend on food, in particular more expensive items such as fruit and vegetables. As such, we fully support the Government in exploring options, at speed, to help minimise the burden this is placing on households.

It appears the Treasury has earmarked current and planned obesity policy as one area to review in light of the crisis, and there is a very real possibility that policies, which are designed to protect public health including the 2018 Soft Drinks Industry Levy, could be scrapped.  Other potential casualties include a raft of measures proposed in the previous Prime Minister’s national obesity strategy, including removing less healthy food and drink from the checkout and restricting less healthy food and drink from being advertised on TV and online.

Given the mounting crisis facing the UK , some campaigners are calling for the government to help, giving people enough to eat, rather than spending time on implementing policies to reduce obesity.

In this blog, we will attempt to explore the decision to U-turn on obesity policy from a food insecurity perspective.


It cannot be quantity vs quality, it has to be both

Consideration must not only be given to the quantity of food available but also the quality (i.e., healthiness) of food. It is important people are able to access the right quality, variety, as well as quantity of food. If we do not address all of these aspects, it is likely to only further widen the health disparities we already see in this country.

The reality is at present, those who have limited budget to spend on food and drink have to make a difficult decision between food quantity and quality. Often, quantity will take precedent to avoid anyone in the household going hungry, but this can also mean meals are high calorie but nutrient poor. Poor quality diet is a key contributor to diet-related ill health, including overweight and obesity. It comes as no surprise that rates of children with obesity are increasing significantly faster in communities with high deprivation levels compared to those with low deprivation levels.

Furthermore, a study from 2020 in the North West found that those who were more food insecure tended to have a higher Body Mass Index.

Reducing health disparities was a key manifesto item for the Conservative Party as part of their Levelling Up agenda and scrapping obesity policies that will help to bridge the inequality gap is unwise.


Sugar tax revenue is providing valuable funding to feed children at breakfast and during holidays

It seems completely counter intuitive to be reconsidering the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL or better known as the sugar tax) in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

The levy has generated over £1bn in revenue since its inception in 2018, which has been reinvested into supporting children and families who are likely to feel the effects of the cost-of-living crisis greatest.

For example, the revenue has helped to fund the National School Breakfast Programme, whereby schools which have 40% or more pupils in bands A-F of the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index, can access funding to set up a healthy school breakfast programme. This will provide some relief for family’s food bills, which are reaching record highs, and ensure the children who need it most have access to a healthy and nutritious breakfast and are ready to learn ahead of the school day .

Furthermore, revenue from the SDIL has also supported the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF). HAF is designed to provide support to children in receipt of free school meals through holiday periods, which is means-tested, meaning households on low incomes or in receipt of certain entitlements can benefit from a free nutritious lunch for all children between 4-16 years old.

It is also worth highlighting that the legislation which has been in place for four years now, has removed 48 million kilos of sugar from the nation’s diet, and is supported by the public.

Unless the Government have plans on how to fill this funding gap, scrapping the SDIL could go as far as increasing the burden of the cost-of-living crisis on low-income households.


Scrapping obesity policy now will not shield households from the cost-of-living crisis – the solutions lie elsewhere

We have yet to see any evidence that suggests scrapping obesity policies will mitigate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on households. How will scrapping legislation that will ensure only healthier items are placed at prominent locations in store mitigate the impact? How will scrapping legislation that will mean only healthier food and drink can be advertised on TV and online via social media play any role in softening the blow?

The solutions to the cost-of-living crisis lie elsewhere. There are many other areas the government could explore, that would actually have a meaningful impact.

We urge the government to focus on solutions that put more money in people’s pockets, enabling households to afford both the quality and quantity of food they need to eat well. These could include ensuring benefits are uprated in real time to keep up with the true cost of inflation (including uprating financial support for asylum seekers) and reinstating the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, which before it was taken away was shown to protect some children from poverty . We would encourage the government to work with local authorities to implement measurable plans to improve the uptake of benefits such as Pension Credit and The Healthy Start Scheme and consider immediately extending Free School Meals to the 800,000 children living in poverty who are currently not eligible.

Other immediate measures such as pausing all debt deductions taken by the Department of Work and Pensions and removing the benefits cap would significantly strengthen the benefits safety net for many of our lowest income households, whilst aligning the national minimum wage with the Real Living Wage would offer much needed support for working families (see Sustain’s letter to Liz Truss detailing Ten actions which could help our food system).

The Government could also consider targeting the rising cost of public transport. Here in Liverpool, the combined authority have capped single bus journeys in the region at a maximum of £2 from September, in a bid to help residents who are being hit hard by the cost of living crisis; meaning some passengers will save up to 13% versus the current cost of their journey. The Department for Transport have also announced this scheme would be rolled out nationally next year from January – March 2023 to help tackle the cost of living crisis. However, European countries including France, Germany and Ireland have taken a step further by offering significantly subsidised or even free train travel as a way of helping people cope with the cost-of-living crisis. Furthermore, the cost-of-living crisis has already arrived, families need support now rather than waiting until next year to benefit from any subsidised travel.

One study across the whole of Europe found that some of the UK’s largest cities – Birmingham, London and Greater Manchester – are ranked the worst for public transport affordability, with residents being asked to fork out 8-10% of their household budget on monthly travel costs compared to just 2% in Oslo.

Freeing up this household cost could go towards other important household costs, such as food bills, not to mention encourage more sustainable forms of travel.


Food for thought

The government’s previous cabinet, through the existing National Obesity Strategy, appeared to be sensitised to the importance of reducing obesity and taking a population level approach to healthy weight. This was largely brought about due to the stark evidence linking obesity to Covid-19 complications; and cited the need to ‘build back healthier’.

Last year’s National Child Measurement Programme statistics were sobering, showing almost a 5% increase in obesity at both reception and year 6 age.

This review into obesity policy is terrible timing for the nation’s health. We urge the government to stand firm and progress with the original proposed actions to reduce the prevalence of obesity.



Dr Naomi Maynard is the Good Food Programme Director at Feeding Liverpool, the city of Liverpool’s food alliance. Prior to this role, Naomi worked as a Senior Researcher for Church Army, and Food Insecurity Lead Executive for Together Liverpool. / Twitter: @feedingliverpool @goodfoodlpool

Beth Bradshaw is a Project Manager and Registered Associate Nutritionist working at the public health charity Food Active. Beth is currently co-chair of the good food plan policy and advocacy community group. / Twitter: @food_active

A Healthy Start for Liverpool

By Dr Naomi Maynard, Good Food Programme Director – Feeding Liverpool

The Healthy Start Scheme is a lifeline for so many pregnant women and families with young children, providing access to good food: fruit, vegetables, milk and vitamins which are so important to give your child the best start in life. It certainly was for me, when back in 2014 my husband and I welcomed our first son whilst we were both students: the weekly benefit meant our family could have fresh fruits and vegetables at a time when money was tight.

But so many people who could be a part of this scheme are missing out – in Liverpool the figure is close to 1 in 3 eligible people not benefiting from the scheme – meaning last year nearly three quarters of a million pounds, set aside for the Healthy Start Scheme, went unclaimed. Many families we were interacting with at children’s centres and in our community food sector told us they simply did not know about the scheme, or were unsure how to apply.

Feeding Liverpool, therefore chose to make improving the uptake of Healthy Start a priority for our food alliance this year. We have focused our efforts on two interconnected strands: developing a network of Community Healthy Start Champions, and working with children’s centres, parents, health visitors and our public health colleagues to develop a series of national and local recommendations, which if enacted would significantly improve both the uptake and the reach of the Healthy Start Scheme.

Community Healthy Start Champions

In May, we ran an online and in-person training session about Healthy Start for volunteers and staff from community food spaces and emergency food providers. Starting with the basics of explaining the scheme before moving onto looking at the three ways the voluntary food sector can support in our mission of increasing awareness and uptake:

  1. Advertising the Health Start Scheme

Each of our community food spaces committed to advertising the Healthy Start. We provided them with two of the NHS’s Easy Read booklets to help us explain to members of food clubs, clients at foodbanks, what the Healthy Start Scheme is, and a bunch of stickers to put on fridges and freezers. Public Health have also committed to funding Healthy Start pop-up banners for 30 venues.

  1. Supporting members to sign up

The digitalisation of the Healthy Start scheme in March has left many worried that those who are struggling with digital access may be excluded. Where community spaces can, we have encouraged them to use their WIFI and gadgets to support members to sign up online, and have a Healthy Start Community Champion available to support people to sign up.

  1. Accepting Healthy Start cards at community food spaces

If a community food space can accept debit card payments, and offers at least one of the Healthy Start eligible items (frozen, tinned or fresh fruit or vegetables, milk or lentils)  they can accept the new Healthy Start cards. We have worked with community groups who didn’t have ‘Sum-up’ machines, or the equivalent to purchase one (Feeding Britain have generously offered to supply these machines where needed). We then spent time with the different models of community food spaces to work out how integrating the cards could work for them. Our largest community food space network in Liverpool, is the Your Local Pantry network with 14 pantries in the city. They have been piloting a split payment approach – where a member can put 50% of their usual membership cost onto their Healthy Start card and pay the remainder via cash and card. So far this is going well!

It is early days but the signs are encouraging, with our 80 new Healthy Start Community Champions completing their training and beginning to put into practice what they have learnt whilst acting as ambassadors for the scheme in their own community venues.

We will be re-running our Healthy Start training in the months ahead, do join us and encourage others in your organisations to become Healthy Start Community Champions.


Monday 17th October 1:30pm to 3:00pm.
This training will be led by Annette James from Feeding Liverpool at St Andrew’s Church, Clubmoor, 176 Queens Drive, Liverpool, L13 0AL Register to attend in-person here.

Online via Zoom:

Wednesday 2nd November 10:00am to 11:00am.
This training will be led by Annette James from Feeding Liverpool. Register to attend online here.


Our local and national recommendations

The second element of our work, kindly funded by Torus Foundation, has involved engaging with and listening to the many people (or ‘stakeholders’) connected with the scheme: parents, children’s centre staff, midwives, GP’s and public health colleagues.

This work has culminated in a series of recommendations about how the scheme could be improved, ranging from national asks including expanding the eligibility of the scheme so more families can be supported, to the need for a national communications campaign. Last week one of Liverpool’s MP Ian Byrne took our concerns to a parliamentary session with Kate Green MP – lobbying for changes to these schemes.

Surely investing in and improving Healthy Start is an easy cost-of-living-crisis win, getting support through an established infrastructure to some of the households who need it the most?

More locally we have identified the need for a cross-sector Healthy Start working group, connected parts of the system, and developed more strategic local communications – alongside a series of practical actions we can each take to ensure pregnant women and families know about Healthy Start (such as this summer when we sent out 10,000 Healthy Start flyers via the Holiday Activities and Food network).

We’d encourage readers to take a look at our reports and get in touch with our team if you think you or your organisation can take one (or more!) of the recommendations forward.

International examples of best practice emergency provision supporting people facing destitution

Feeding Liverpool recently submitted three submissions to the All-Party Parliamentary Group inquiry into ending the need for foodbanks.  A wide range of opinions have been offered about the best way forward for ending the need for foodbanks – this work will form the foundations for a wider review of our city’s crisis response.

This series of blogs is taken from the Good Food Community Advocacy and Policy Group submission.

What can we learn from international examples of best practice in terms of effective emergency provision in supporting people facing destitution?

By Ellen Schwaller, PHD candidate at the University of Liverpool and member of the Good Food Community Advocacy and Policy Group

Food insecurity is rooted in long-term social inequalities. Household income alone is the strongest predictor of being at-risk for experiencing food insecurity[1]. Centring this issue as a symptom of deeper and complex issues is key to understanding the role of various interventions to address both long- and short-term food insecurity. Community-based, food assistance programmes, while important to alleviate temporary food insecurity, are not viable long-term solutions[2] and in some cases were not successful in reaching all food insecure households experiencing additional crises during the COVID 19 pandemic.[3] Fiscal policies supporting families such as targeted cash-transfers lead to better food security outcomes,[4] and further evidence supports shifting to more comprehensive, population-based fiscal solutions (e.g. a modified universal-basic income and increases to minimum wage) for better outcomes.[5]

Here, examples of targeted (food-based) fiscal interventions from the United States are briefly summarised and examined. Outside of in-kind food provision, interventions in developed countries are split into two approaches: subsidies and income or cash-transfers. These are often aimed at the household or individual experiencing food insecurity. One of the most wide-reaching cash-transfer policies in the US is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While it is generally considered effective in improving food security for the most disadvantaged, it has been criticised for a number of reasons (e.g., as an entitlement programme there are stigma and barriers to access and gaps for ineligible households experiencing food insecurity).

This well-established and far-reaching programme provides a platform to adapt to address additional needs and leverage for other interventions.  During the COVID 19 pandemic this was achieved through top ups to funding and was successful at preventing food insecurity.[6] Equally, other interventions (e.g. food financing initiatives) can be combined with SNAP to further improve access to healthy foods.[7] Nationally, double dollar programmes for fresh produce at farmers markets are also leveraged to increase access to fruits and vegetables and simultaneously support the local food system.

Less far-reaching but important to consider is the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program within the USDA. It supports nutrition incentive (NI) programmes, produce prescription programmes, and related training. A recent report demonstrated a two dollar return for every one dollar spent to the local food retail economy along with sustained nutritional benefits and reduced food insecurity to participants in the funded interventions.[8] The report includes additional details and outcomes of a two-year period of funding for 30 programmes across the US The breadth of NI programmes funded demonstrate promising local and community-driven models to improve food security and nutrition while supporting the local economy and food system (e.g., doubling dollars at local farmers’ markets, subsidising community supported agriculture shares). It also highlights programmes that support both accessibility and availability of healthy food (e.g., mobile markets).

This type of initiative marries community-based knowledge of local systems and needs with the necessary infrastructure and support from larger government funding; however, the temporary nature of this grant-making process is cause for concern and must be combined with long-term efforts to address root causes of food insecurity. Leaning on community-based efforts and charities rather than comprehensive reform is a dangerous approach especially when faced with extreme shocks. Ensuring more permanent, government-based structures need to be in-place to support households at risk of and those already experiencing food insecurity.

[1] Gundersen C, Kreider B, Pepper J. The economics of food insecurity in the United States. Appl Econ Perspect Policy. 2011;33(3); Leete L, Bania N. The effect of income shocks on food insufficiency. Rev Econ Househ. 2010;8(4); Sriram U, Tarasuk V. Economic Predictors of Household Food Insecurity in Canadian Metropolitan Areas. J Hunger Environ Nutr. 2016;11(1).

[2] Loopstra R. Interventions to address household food insecurity in high-income countries. Proc Nutr Soc. 2018;77(3):270–81.

[3] Men F, Tarasuk V. Food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Food charity, government assistance and employment. Can Public Policy. 2021;COVID-19(April 2020).

[4] Ionescu-Ittu R, Glymour MM, Kaufman JS. A difference-in-differences approach to estimate the effect of income-supplementation on food insecurity. Prev Med (Baltim) [Internet]. 2015;70:108–16. Available from:

[5] Gundersen C. Viewpoint: A proposal to reconstruct the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a universal basic income program for food. Food Policy [Internet]. 2021;101(April):102096. Available from:; Men F, Urquia ML, Tarasuk V. The role of provincial social policies and economic environments in shaping food insecurity among Canadian families with children. Prev Med (Baltim) [Internet]. 2021;148(October 2020):106558. Available from:

[6] Bryant A, Follett L. Hunger relief: A natural experiment from additional SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Reg Heal – Am [Internet]. 2022;10:100224. Available from:

[7] Cantor J, Beckman R, Collins RL, Dastidar MG, Richardson AS, Dubowitz T. SNAP participants improved food security and diet after a full-service supermarket opened in an urban food desert. Health Aff. 2020;39(8).

[8] Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Information Center (GusNIP NTAE): Impact Findings [Internet]. 2021. Available from: