Cambridge is an affluent city, but being on a low income in an area of prosperity can be really difficult.
Cambridge was recently identified as having the worst levels of inequality in the UK. Our aim is for all people to be able to access good quality, healthy and sustainably produced food, regardless of income.
The ‘Good Food for All’ workshop in 2017 was attended by representatives from Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge University and Sustainable Food Cities. They used the Institute for Manufacturing’s ‘Value Mapping Toolkit’ to analyse the way people are accessing food at present, the inherent inequalities of that system and how it is giving rise to food poverty, and then devising a scheme in which the Sustainable Food Hub will make good quality, healthy and sustainably produced food more accessible (meaning affordable, easy to obtain and supported by nutrition and preparation training) to local households that are on a low income.
Our intention with our activities that come under ‘Good Food for All’ is to think up solutions to the issue of health inequality and food poverty with a commercial basis, meaning they should not be wholely dependant on food donations or volunteer work.
We consider charities and community groups that provide food for people on a low income, such as Jimmy’s, Wintercomfort, FoodCycle or Holiday Lunches, to be an important part of our local food ecosystem – both in the role they play in ensuring everyone in our community is properly sustained, but also as relatively flexible receivers of food (i.e., they are not restaurants that plan their menus far in advance and then have to stick to them). As we consider the local food system as a whole when distributing fresh and healthy produce, these organisations will be important recipients of food that is still top-quality but that might not have been chosen by the more selective members. This food, in a more restricted system that has fewer end users, might otherwise have gone to waste.
We are also collaborating with organisations such as Cambridge Sustainable Food and the Cambridge Food Poverty Alliance to logistically support schemes such as the community fridges and the redistribution of food surplus from businesses. Our Healthy Start Veg Box Scheme makes high quality fruit and veg more accessible to people on a low income.
Through coordination of our existing supply chains and our membership model we can ensure that the costs of providing these services are kept low and are covered, making them economically sustainable and thus able to provide benefit into the future.