Food providers share useful information

In November, the Voluntary Norfolk Communities Team hosted an online Empowering Communities workshop bringing together different community food providers to share information and good practice.  We heard from speakers from the Nourishing Norfolk Network, The Feed Social Supermarket and Mundesley Community Larder. They spoke about the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on Norfolk residents’ ability to access healthy and nutritious food.

 

Social Supermarkets

Building networks to strengthen community resilience is at the heart of the Empowering Communities Partnership so it seemed right to begin this event with our colleagues Billie and Lizzi from the Norfolk Community Foundation speaking about the Nourishing Norfolk Network of food hubs that includes affordable social supermarkets and community larders. Billie explained that ‘it’s all about giving people dignity, choice and availability’. The social supermarket model allows people to buy food at discounted prices. This therefore reduces the shame and stigma that might be associated with a more traditional foodbank set up.  The hubs are about more than just food provision and customers can be signposted support services where needed.  Staff and volunteers get to know regular customers and as a result people trust them enough to ask for help.

 

Food provision in Norfolk

Over sixty people from across Norfolk joined the Zoom call. Participants had an interest in or were already involved in food provision in their communities.   The sheer amount of comments and questions shared in the chat and in the meeting itself highlighted he level of concern about this topic. They illustrated the importance of networking. In the words of one the speakers, ‘we are all part of a cohesive goal’.  Andrea from the Feed Social Supermarket drew our attention to the Norwich Food Equality Action Plan and invited Norwich based projects to join their network.

We also heard from Wendy Fredericks from Mundesley Community Larder who provided a perspective of food aid in a rural community, where seasonal work is a particular issue.  In Mundesley, the Community Larder works closely with businesses in the village. Financial donations are turned into tokens for people to spend in the greengrocers and butchers. This therefore keeps money circulating in the local economy.

We wanted to make sure that we used this event to highlight existing resources to help community food providers so we were delighted that our colleagues from Norfolk Adult Learning were there to share information about their Think Food Courses to help people cook on a budget.  The courses can be delivered in the community. In some cases eligible participants are given a free slow cookers at the end of the course.

 

Next steps…

The food providers in Norfolk shared so much useful information about the situation in the county. In fact there was probably too much to cram into a 90 minute event!  We’ve created a Food Provision online notice board (Padlet) so we can collate all the information from the event in one place:  Food Provision: Cost of Living Crisis (padlet.com), this sits alongside our Warm Spaces notice board:  Warm Spaces: Cost of Living Crisis (padlet.com)  We are currently planning our programme of workshops for 2023 and would be interested to hear if are there any topics connecting to the cost of living crisis that you would like us to cover?  Please send any ideas of comments to network@voluntarynorfolk.org.uk.

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