Emergency food providers are running desperately low on supplies. Jump to how you can help
Food insecurity in Brighton & Hove
Food insecurity in the city has been hugely effected by the coronavirus pandemic with many people losing income and jobs due to school and business closures, shielding and lack of support. Many have sought emergency food relief but for those already experiencing food poverty, the pandemic exacerbated an already prominant and unacceptable situation. Before the pandemic, the level of food insecurity in the UK was one of the worst in Europe, with nearly 1 in 5 UK children under 15 living in a home with moderate or severe food insecurity leading to 1 in 5 school children eligible for free school meals (1.6 million children).
Brighton & Hove is no different with 20% of residents in 2018 stating they would not have enough money in the next 12 months for basic living costs after paying for housing. In recent years, the city has experienced a continued rise in people seeking emergency food with 21 organisations providing emergency food in 2019, delivering an estimated 420 food parcels each week.
The pandemic caused a 374% increase in food parcel deliveries (from July 2019 to July 2020) and the high demand still remains. The effects of the pandemic are predicted to last for a long time but it is important that the city does not return to ‘normal’, pre-pandemic life if normality involves thousands of people experiencing food poverty in the city.
The Emergency Food Network
The Emergency Food Network is a collaboration of food banks and community organisations providing food to those in need in Brighton & Hove. Of the over 40 groups that currently provide emergency food, 29 provide food parcels: two Trussell Trust food banks, a citywide service run by the Children’s Centres, and 26 independent food banks run by community organisations and faith and mutual aid groups. 8 projects provide hot meals (either delivered or collected) with some hoping to return to in-person specialised lunch clubs, such as Lunch Positive that supports people living with HIV. There are also now 8 affordable food initiatives using a social supermarket model to offer affordable shopping for local communities.
” [It] helps me a lot, especially because I have kids at home and I am in a difficult money situation. I can’t thank you enough!”
Food bank recipient
The type of support given by these 40+ groups is varied, as too are the people they support, but one trend is currently being experienced across the board. Most emergency food providers in Brighton & Hove have seen a sharp drop in donations over the past months, threatening their ability to support those in need. Adding to the problem is the reduction in surplus food availability due to reduced funding for organisations such as Fareshare, the reopening of food businesses and changes to supermarket date labels. Many are having to change their work simply because they do not have enough food.
How you can help
There are many ways you can help your local community food group provide emergency food and support and we want to thank everyone who has helped already. Donations of food are desperately needed at projects across the city and we have a list of emergency food projects to help you find one closest to you. We also have a list of projects requesting specific items as well as volunteering opportunities such as working in a kitchen, delivering food or helping with admin.
When donating food, it is useful to think about what you buy when you go shopping as everyone needs items that form a healthy and varied diet as well as nice treats and cooking essentials like oils, herbs, and spices. Food insecurity is a reality – and a possibility – for many but these vital groups are working hard to support those in need and any help you can give such as volunteering a couple of hours a week or donating what food or money you can, will go a long way to help.