A Menu for Change - New Project to Address Food Insecurity
New partnership to prevent food poverty in Scotland receives funding from The Big Lottery Fund
A new partnership project which seeks to evolve the response to food poverty in Scotland from foodbanks to tackling the underlying causes was announced today by Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish and The Poverty Alliance.
Nearly £1m has been awarded to the three-year project by The Big Lottery Fund Scotland.
The project - called 'A Menu for Change: Cash, Rights, Food' - will be formally launched in 2017 and will seek to reduce the need for and reliance on emergency food aid. It will identify and work intensively in three local authorities and use the lessons learned to influence the national response.
The project will pilot alternative services and approaches to reduce the number of people who have no option but to turn to foodbanks. Central to this approach will be enhancing access to cash, including by strengthening links to the Scottish Welfare Fund. As well as cash, the project will promote alternative, more dignified ways of supporting those facing hunger such as access to healthy food through community cafes or food cooperatives.
Hunger has grown in Scotland with the number of emergency food packages handed out by the Trussell Trust increasing by more than 900 percent in three years up to 2015/16. Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, 133,726 people were given three days of emergency food. However, the full scale of food insecurity is significantly higher with figures from other emergency food aid providers not collected nationally and a lack of monitoring of those adopting coping strategies like skipping meals.
Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "Oxfam responds to food crises globally but the hunger we see in communities across Scotland isn't created by a lack of food, it is caused by poverty.
"People across Scotland have responded incredibly whether by volunteering at a foodbank or donating cash and food. However, the truth is that foodbanks should not need to exist at all - everyone should have enough money to afford food and other essentials.
"We know that ending hunger in Scotland by ensuring everyone has enough money for food, is a huge challenge. However, by harnessing our collective expertise and by working with those responding in communities whilst ensuring people at risk are at the heart of designing solutions, we believe we can minimise the need for emergency food aid in Scotland."
Confirming the funding, Maureen McGinn, Chair of The Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: "The levels of food poverty and hunger across Scotland's communities should concern us all. We're delighted to support this innovative project which aims to tackle the causes of food insecurity and improve responses to it.
"We are particularly impressed by the strategic vision and partnership working central to this project which involves stakeholders across Scotland. We wish Oxfam Scotland and all their partners every success over the next three years as they work together to deliver 'A Menu for Change'. This work truly has the potential to bring about positive and long-lasting change in Scotland."
Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance, said: "Too many people in Scotland are struggling to feed themselves and their families. For some, even being in paid employment doesn't provide the security they need.
"This project will help those who need it, whether they are in or out of work. By bringing local authorities, advice organisations and those involved in local food projects together, we can find long-term solutions to the problem of food insecurity in Scotland."
All four project partners were members of the Scottish Government's Independent Working Group on Food Poverty. The project will build on the findings contained in the Group's report, 'Dignity: Ending Hunger Together in Scotland' , which called for dignity and rights to be at the heart of the response to food insecurity and a transition away from emergency food aid as the primary response.
John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: "There is no shortage of food in Scotland. The fundamental problem is that too many people are being left without enough money to feed themselves and their families.
"We are delighted to be part of this project which will help ensure people get the social security support they are entitled to, whether through UK benefits or access to the Scottish Welfare Fund."
Critically, the project's delivery organisations will work closely with strategic partners including the Trussell Trust, FareShare and Community Food and Health Scotland.
Pete Ritchie, Director of Nourish Scotland, said: "The Scottish Government has committed to making the right to food a reality. This project will build a partnership between our four agencies, local authorities, many different community and voluntary groups and people with first-hand experience of using the system.
"Together over the next three years we will build and strengthen joined-up, inclusive and dignified local responses to food insecurity which help to realise the right to food, while recognising that we have a mountain to climb in tackling the deep-rooted causes of inequality and poverty in Scotland."
Reacting to the funding, George Kirkpatrick, Chair of the West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare (WDCF) which operates three distribution outlets, said: "There has been a sharp increase in the amount of working class people in West Dunbartonshire needing support from WDCF. This is due to the effects of low pay, alongside recent cuts to Universal Credit and continuing attacks on disability benefits.
"When I and the other volunteers set up the foodshare four years ago to meet the need for emergency food provision in West Dunbartonshire, we thought it might be needed for a few months or a year. The reality is that the need has continued to increase, and the outlook for working people is extremely worrying. We fear that foodbank use is being encouraged as the new norm for delivering welfare to the destitute."
 The Trussell Trust distributed 14,332 food parcels in Scotland in 2012-13 and 133,726 in 2015-16. Trussell Trust, 'Foodbank statistics with regional breakdown' https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/#fy-2015-2016
 Trussell Trust: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
 Dignity: Ending Hunger Together in Scotland', The Report of the Independent Working Group on Food Poverty http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/06/8020
About Oxfam Scotland:Oxfam is a global movement of millions of people who share the belief that, in a world rich in resources, poverty isn't inevitable. In just 15 years, extreme poverty has been halved. 15 more years and we can end it for good. To spread that change and make it last, political solutions are also needed to tackle the root causes of poverty and create societies where empowered individuals can thrive.
About The Big Lottery Fund: The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
The Big Lottery Fund Scotland is focussed on helping people and communities most in need throughout Scotland through its five-year £250m funding scheme as well as small grants schemes Awards for All and Investing in Ideas. Since March 2007 Big Lottery Fund Scotland has taken devolved decisions on Lottery spending, the Committee, led by Chair, Maureen McGinn plays a strategic role in the future direction of the Fund in Scotland.
About Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland: CPAG in Scotland works to raise awareness of the devastating impact poverty has on children in Scotland, maximise families' incomes by helping to ensure those eligible for benefits and tax credits receive their full entitlements and campaign for positive policy changes to end that poverty.
About Nourish Scotland: Nourish Scotland is an NGO campaigning on food justice issues in Scotland. Nourish believes tasty and nutritious food should be accessible to everyone, be sustainable, and be produced, processed, sold and served in a way that values and respects workers.
About The Poverty Alliance: The Poverty Alliance's vision is of a sustainable Scotland based on social and economic justice, with dignity for all, where poverty and inequalities are not tolerated and are challenged. It is the national anti-poverty network in Scotland, working with voluntary organisations, policy makers and politicians at Scottish, UK and European levels.
About West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare (WDCF): The objective of WDCF is to assist all those affected by poverty by: providing practical support to the communities of West Dunbartonshire by way of direct distribution of food to any in need; signposting of information, advice and support to the communities of West Dunbartonshire on matters of social wellbeing; raising awareness of the issues affecting the communities of West Dunbartonshire by lobbying and campaigning for changes in government policy decisions on matters of social justice and poverty.