• Challenging food poverty in Edinburgh

    6 October 2023

    EKFH car

    Challenge Poverty Week

    Georgina Bowyer, UKSPF Grants Manager, Capital City Partnership

    As we have begun to see glimpses of autumn over the past few weeks, sitting at my desk with hot drink, and a comforting bowl of porridge in the morning have once again become staple parts of my routine. Aside from basic nourishment, food is a powerful measure of care and contentment – a way that we look after ourselves, enable ourselves to thrive, and of course, connect with others through cooking and sharing meals with each other.

    Among the four aims of Edinburgh’s Poverty Commission, is the intention that “no one has to go without the basic essentials they need to eat, keep clean and safe, and stay warm and dry”. It should go without saying, and yet we are keenly aware that going without food is the norm for many individuals and families within our city.

    This week is Challenge Poverty Week and today’s theme is on food. The Poverty Alliance briefing paper, outlines the role that the welfare system, community food responses, and supermarkets play. It highlights calls to action, particularly around ensuring there is dignity embedded in the approaches to tackle food poverty.

    At Capital City Partnership we support a variety of community food projects that operate across Edinburgh through the grants we manage. We’re pleased to have this opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that they do. These three examples are supported by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund:

    Empty Kitchens Full Hearts
    Empty Kitchens Full Hearts is based in Granton and began during the Covid lockdowns. The project has continued to see a need for its services and has expanded and developed its premises and community garden.

    Empty Kitchens Full Hearts offers home-delivered meal packs containing lunch, dinner, and a snack for two days. The project also offers weekly on-site hot food service every Friday.

    Additionally, there is a Kitchen Assistant Programme combining a course at Granton College with developing skills within the experienced kitchen team.

    Fresh Start
    Fresh Start, based in Pilton, offers a range of services for those experiencing poverty, with a particular focus on people who have experienced homelessness and supporting them to establish themselves in new tenancies.

    Alongside a pantry based in a shop front in Pilton, Fresh Start also operates growing spaces and cookery sessions, enabling individuals to build their knowledge and skills in growing their own produce, and creating dishes for themselves and their families.

    Cyrenians are based in Leith and are well known for their long-established services, including the Good Food programme which is now supported in part by UKSPF Funds.

    The Fareshare depot is a thriving surplus food hub connecting local community to good quality food that otherwise would have been sent to landfill. As well as supplying local charities and community groups, the food is also used for pantries – where individuals can pay a basic membership fee in order to access affordable food.

    The Cook School allows upskilling and supports people to gain qualifications such as food hygiene with a view to progressing towards work.

    Each of these projects are valuable in themselves and yet they each do much more than simply offer people a meal. Whether it is supporting fantastic volunteer opportunities, creating social space, offering skills and qualifications, or improving the environment through planting and growing, the impact of each project is richly layered.

    This multi-faceted approach also rings true for the Community Renewal Trust, who we also support. The Community Renewal Trust offer holistic support for individuals as well as a community development approach to tackling poverty and inequality.

    John Halliday, CEO of Community Renewal Trust

    “This Challenge Poverty Week I have been reflecting on the constant tension that people face between dealing with crisis - putting food on the table and putting money in pre-pay energy meters to keep homes warm - and the long-term struggle to move out of poverty, especially when not all work is enough to move people out of poverty anymore.

    At the Community Renewal Trust we aim to inspire people to find good quality work, to find what their career can be. Often those people are starting from a position of not being able to put food on the table at all. So we offer people the opportunity to become members of our pantries - they pay a small amount each week which gives them a basic amount of food to get started with. This brings people in who would have been facing crisis and offers them the opportunity to think longer-term and start thinking about what they want to do to break the cycle.

    We need to address crisis and we also need to address the underlying issues. That's why funders and service providers need to continue to work together to ensure that community action and life-changing transformative work continues to happen and to offer a better future for individuals and communities in our city.”

    Challenge Poverty Week has been an opportunity both to recognise the complex and stark issues that we face, especially as we move towards another winter where many in Scotland will struggle with the basics of eating and keeping warm. However, it has also been an opportunity to acknowledge the work being done to address these issues and recognise the hard work of many to support those communities most at risk.

    To find out more about Challenge Poverty Week and the calls to action, you can visit the Poverty Alliance website.

    The Community Renewal Trust has launched a new campaign this week: 20 ways in 20 days


    Want to know more about UKSPF funded Edinburgh projects? Visit our UKSPF webpage.

    Don't miss an update, subscribe to our blog!