People are the unrivalled experts in their lives, local places, cultures, challenges and opportunities.
Whether it’s through formal or informal volunteering, giving, or social action; helping each other out, and standing up for what’s right, is a deeply ingrained part of our culture in Liverpool. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw powerful food citizenship in action.
Food Citizenship in numbers
The number of community food spaces (such as pantries and food clubs) has doubled, with at least 18 new community food providers in the last 12 months and FareShare, a national charity that redistribute surplus food to charities, has more than doubled the amount of food they redistributed in Liverpool over the past year.
Food citizenship is a movement of organisations working across the UK food and farming sector that believe in treating people as citizens, not consumers.
Community food spaces are places where local people come together around good food. They are commonly led by local community members and local community organisations. They have good food at the heart of what they do, with many also connecting with activities or services beyond food. They play a part in tackling local food waste, often using surplus food that would otherwise have gone to landfill.
The Impact of Food citizenship
The impact of these community food spaces is greater than alleviating food insecurity. These spaces are improving local food environments, reducing food waste, improving mental wellbeing, creating local job opportunities, combating loneliness and improving food literacy. Read more about the impact of pantries in this Your Local Pantry 2021 social impact report.
Food literacy is having the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to choose, grow, prepare and enjoy healthy food to support one’s health, community and the environment. It means understanding the impact of our food choices on our health, the environment and our economy.
If you’re dealing with depression and you’re just surviving. You’re limited, your budget, so you’re buying food to exist, just keeping alive. Then you start coming here and you’re getting fresh fruit, fresh veg.”
Deborah* (48, recently unemployed ) – Joseph Lappin Centre
Support the pantry, please, support the pantry but also support, or find a way to support, opening local shops. Good local shops, not cheap, knock off B&Ms and takeaways and betting shops and off licences. We got another off licence opened on West Derby Road, we didn’t need one…Please, we need local shops. That’s how you get a community, if you want a community you need to give the community what it needs and what it needs is local shops. It needs people to support local businesses.”
Barb* is in her 60’s and is a volunteer and member of St Andrews’s Pantry
[We need to] bring a bit of life into the community because we’re looking round and the lives are dull and you can see. You can see the depression on people, in people’s shoulders. “
Hilary*, 50’s, West Derby, March 2021.
There’s no stigma going the Pantry, everyone uses it”
Kensington Fields Pantry, Liverpool
We want to enable more Food Citizenship of this kind, as part of a city wide ‘Good Food Movement.’
We see this as a critical moment in time to support this increased momentum, energy and expertise in this space and to create the mechanisms for communities to shape the future of their local food environments.
We must work with system leaders to create the right conditions for communities to innovate and participate in their local food environment and in the way that food is being produced, distributed and consumed.
We must also work with organisations operating within the food system to ensure the information, resources and motivation to play a part in our vision for Good Food For All.
Food has the power to unite us. Food is more than calories, it is at the heart of every human community throughout time. It is a tool we use to show love and kinship and friendship. We turn to food when we are full of joy and full of sorrow. The ‘food system’ doesn’t exist outside of us. It is a global system but it is also local. We can shape it. For those on the lowest incomes reshaping a fair food system is vital. But, and this is the most important ‘but’, we are all food citizens, not just food consumers. When we see ourselves as food citizens a better, fairer, more equal and healthy food system benefits us all”
Gary Stott, Social Supermarket pioneer, consultant and Chair of Community Shop CiC
Set up spaces for a wide range of perspectives to prioritise key challenges in their local food environment and get involved in cycles of innovation, experimentation, reflection and learning. It is especially important to involve expert voices that have been traditionally excluded from these conversations – like frontline practitioners and people directly affected by the challenges being explored.
Make information about our food systems and ways people can influence them more accessible and easy to understand so that everyone is empowered with knowledge and able to play their part.
Support promising innovative solutions to develop and sustain through making resources and expertise available and working with decision makers to shift policies that are getting in the way of this work. This relates to Goal 4: Shifting policy and Practice.
Are you involved in a community food space? Do you have an idea that would improve food in your local area? Do you want to help us redesign our local food system? Sign up to our newsletter to find out about our next event.
Take a look at this interactive map to find out what community spaces exist in your local area and how you can get involved.