Organisations across Wales will receive over £1.9m to help tackle food poverty, assisting with food insecurities within local communities. This will also focus on addressing food issues in a more sustainable way, working with local and regional partners to meet the specific needs of their communities.
Valley Pantries, which is run by the housing association Linc Cymru, has been awarded over £31,000 to further aid their work in Bridgend.
Karen Jeffreys, Community Engagement Manager at Linc Cymru, said: “The coronavirus pandemic shone a light on the financial hardship many people are experiencing. At Linc, we work closely with the local community and our partners to support our residents, and projects such as Valley Pantries have been an effective and necessary help throughout the pandemic.
“Delivering over 4,000 bags of affordable food to residents in Bridgend, the project has shown the true power of community. We are delighted to see Valley Pantries receive this vital funding from Welsh Government, enabling them to continue to provide access to healthy, affordable food and explore new ideas, such as community food growing.”
The local voluntary council for Wrexham County Borough, AVOW, have been awarded over £91,000 to refit local food banks and co-ordinate services.
Chief Executive at AVOW, John Gallanders, said: “At the beginning of Covid, AVOW created a forum consisting of 20 or so organisations dealing with food poverty who identified the need for this funding in order to become more effective and sustainable, so we are delighted to have received this funding to help tackle some of the issues.
“This funding is going to make such a difference to the lives of so many people across Wrexham County Borough.”
There will be a small AVOW grant scheme, where any food poverty initiative can apply, with areas of work that require amounts of money up to £2,000 identified. This will also involve a research project to identify current provision and needs across Wrexham, and to identify developmental opportunities for the network.
There have been a range of different types of projects that have received funding, including those which will; help improve facilities for community cafes and food banks; establish food pantries; support the development of hubs and advice centres; and strengthen community growing projects.
Their future plans also include training and capacity building for volunteers, opportunities for skills development and support for longer-term solutions to address food insecurity. This also includes dealing with the immediate demands.
Anglesey County Borough Council have been awarded £100,000 to support food banks and provide funding for community allotments and cooking classes.
The Council’s Head of Housing Services, Ned Michael, said: “Tackling food poverty and insecurity continues to be one of our main priorities. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, our food banks have seen a substantial increase in demand.
“This grant will allow us the opportunity to undertake further interventions to assist vulnerable households on Anglesey. The funding approach saw several public sector and third sector providers work collaboratively to map out current and, potential future demand.
“This allowed our funding bid to focus on improving access to affordable and nutritious food through Bwyd Da Môn. Thus, alongside providing cooking skills, which will be community-based training sessions delivered by Grwp Llandrillo Menai. Part of this funding will allow our community to add value to existing allotment sites in order to increase fresh produce that will be utilised by our food banks and Bwyd Da Môn.”
Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, said: “The pandemic has had a profound financial impact on so many. Whilst we are working to help families to maximise their incomes and build financial resilience, tackling food poverty and food insecurity continues to exist.
“Although key levers for tackling poverty, such as powers over the tax and welfare systems including Universal Credit, sit with the UK Government, there is much we can do here in Wales to mitigate the impact of poverty and improve outcomes wherever we possibly can. This £1.9m fund will help to support communities and their residents at a local, tailored level.”
The Welsh Government has also taken other steps to try and combat this, such as making free school meals available throughout the holidays this financial year; and supporting a range of other community food initiatives, such as the Big Bocs Bwyd project operating in schools and helping to measurably reduce food waste at a commercial, community and household level.