Minister for Social Justice announces support for food partnerships across Wales

Yesterday (Monday, July 11th), Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice chaired a Cost of Living Summit during which she announced a series of intervention packages, including financial support for cross-sector food partnerships in Wales.

This funding from Welsh Government is worth £3 million and will support the development of cross-sector food partnerships.  The funding will also strengthen existing food partnerships that help build resilience in local food networks through the co-ordination of on the ground, food-related activity; help tackle the root-causes of food poverty; develop citizen action; maximise the effectiveness of projects and ensure that resources are targeted at areas of greatest need.

The funding announced yesterday comes after a Food Poverty Roundtable that was held in May which brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss the impact of rising food prices and energy costs on levels of food poverty.  Feedback from this round table session helped to inform how the funding should be directed to more effectively support people experiencing food poverty and how Welsh Government can help to reduce and prevent the need for emergency food provision in the longer term.

Food Sense Wales – an organisation that aims to influence how food is produced and consumed in Wales – has been key in helping to establish and develop food partnerships as part of its work leading on the Sustainable Food Places network in Wales and very much welcomes this funding injection for food partnerships.  It was also one of the stakeholders who presented at the roundtable event.

“Food Sense Wales is delighted that the Welsh Government has recognised the importance of place-based approaches and the way in which local cross-sector food partnerships can support communities to respond to the cost of living crisis whilst also working to develop more resilient local food economies,” says Katie Palmer, Programme Manager at Food Sense Wales.

“We believe that investment in connected and resilient local food systems builds and retains wealth in Wales – economically, environmentally and socially – and helps to promote collaboration and inclusivity,” continues Katie.  “Over the last few years, Food Sense Wales has been actively encouraging areas and communities across Wales to establish and grow place-based infrastructure, helping to contribute to the development of a ‘good food movement’ as well as wider community food strategies that benefit the health, economy, sustainability and social prosperity of local communities across Wales.”

Eryl Powell, Aneurin Bevan Gwent Public Health Team, Public Health Wales added:  “Having been involved in Sustainable Food Partnerships in Wales since 2012, initially as one of the founder partners of Food Cardiff – the First Sustainable Food Partnership in Wales and more recently as a partner in the Blaenau Gwent Food Partnership, I’ve seen first-hand the impact that place-based approaches and local cross-sector food partnerships has had. This includes supporting communities to respond to the food poverty crisis and enabling access to affordable heathy food as well as the development of resilient local food economies. I am delighted to see the Food Partnership approach being rolled out  across Wales and the additional funding from Welsh Government will ensure that no parts of Wales are left behind.”

Food Sense Wales supports Wales’ seven current Sustainable Food Places members – Food CardiffFood Vale, the Monmouthshire Food PartnershipRCT FoodBlaenau Gwent Food PartnershipNorth Powys Food Partnership and Bwyd Sir Gâr Food in Carmarthenshire.  The organisation is also supporting new projects in Torfaen and Swansea as they further develop their partnership models and work towards becoming fully-fledged member of the Sustainable Food Places network.

The work of some of Wales’ food partnerships, for example projects undertaken by the Blaenau Gwent Food Partnership and RCT Food has already been catalysed thanks to previous Welsh Government funding.  Collaborative, cross sector working has been key to their success with funding being deployed strategically across the regions they serve, ensuring the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Two of Wales’ newest members of the Sustainable Food Places network – Bwyd Sir Gâr Food in Carmarthenshire and the North Powys Food Partnership – are also already piloting two new procurement food hubs within their regions with Social Farms & Gardens, aiming to demonstrate that the public sector can procure efficiently from local producers using methods that benefit the natural environment and local prosperity.  Across the Gwent region, we’ve also seen established and emerging local food partnerships in Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Caerphilly working collectively on Food4Growth – a project aimed at increasing the amount of locally-produced food, creating new food networks and offering new solutions to mitigate food insecurity.  And two of Wales most established food partnerships – Food Cardiff and Food Vale – are also busy helping to build the capacity of food related projects through a range of initiatives such as the Community Food Retail Network in Cardiff and the Food Access project in the Vale of Glamorgan.

In the written statement published yesterday, the Minister for Social Justice added that the cost of living crisis has highlighted the importance of sustainable solutions for tackling food poverty and the importance of enabling local networks to respond to local needs.  Jane Hutt MS continued by stating that these local networks will ensure the immediate and growing needs of households experiencing food poverty are met while also focussing resources on prevention and sustainability to support resilience in the longer term.

The Minister went on to state that this approach will also support a direct fund for emergency aid to help meet growing demand for emergency food provision as a result of the cost of living crisis.

To read the announcement in full and to learn more about the interventions and funding outlined by the Minister for Social Justice, please click here.

For further information on the work of Food Sense Wales and to read more about the Sustainable Food Places network in Wales, please click here.

You can also watch a video that explains more about Sustainable Food Places here: