Food Systems Grants Update

03 February 2023

Late last year our food systems grant-making received a boost of £1.6M through investments both locally in Buckinghamshire and further afield. During a cost of living crisis the need to increase access to affordable nutritious food is now felt more than ever. Locally, multi-year funding will allow One Can Trust to expand its wrap-around support with the aim of moving people away from poverty and food bank use. Investment in Wycombe Food Hub builds on its community shop model and capacity to distribute surplus fresh food. In both examples investment targets aspects of service provision that address the root cause of food insecurity and gives individuals and families greater agency over what they consume. This highlights our priority on building the resilience of the local food system so that communities are better able to withstand future crises in the long-term. Our interest in this area extends beyond Buckinghamshire and our support of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission will continue to explore models for community food resilience beyond the traditional food bank model.  Alongside, a recent grant to the Landworker’s Alliance will bring a partnership of food organisations together to develop an action plan for local food systems transition across the UK with a particular focus on the opportunities for a localised model of public procurement.

Of course, our food starts in the field. We are delighted to welcome new grantee Pasture for Life into our farming portfolio.  PFL is evidencing the benefits of 100% pasture fed livestock for both human health and the environment and supporting farmers to make this transition. Also providing support to farmers is our investment in FareShare’s Surplus for Purpose programme which seeks to mitigate a major disconnect within our current food system.  How is that that each year in the UK 2.9 million tonnes of food is wasted at farm level whilst 7 million people live in food insecurity? Surplus with Purpose makes picking, packing and transporting surplus food cost neutral for the farmer enabling the redistribution of good-to-eat fresh food to people who need it most.

These investments demonstrate the potential of food systems change in delivering better outcomes for people and planet.  Food is also the great connector, we all have a vested interest in it. Genuine change will require different stakeholders to come together to identify where consensus can be reached and action taken. Our funding supports collaboration,  often using the physical spaces of the Rothschild Foundation as a space for debate and exchange. Read on to hear about how our support of Bite Back 2030 is bringing young leaders together with food businesses to bring about better outcomes for children’s health. Building consensus through collaboration is also a major driver for current grantees The Food Foundation and Chefs in Schools. Both are part of a partnership of organisations leading the ‘Feed the Future’ campaign which is calling for the expansion of free school meals eligibility to all children whose families are in receipt of universal credit.

Whilst there are many challenges within the food system, the organisations we are supporting evidence the huge opportunity for, and commitment to, change. We are looking forward to working with all current and new grantees in 2023.