On November 16th 2020, we launched our crowdfunder #HungryatChristmas to raise money for 18 food projects providing food to those in need over winter. We have received hundreds of kind donations from individuals, groups, communities and businesses, and reached our original target of £15,000 in a month.
We have decided to extend the crowdfunder for the rest of January as the crisis this winter shows no sign of abating. Job losses, furlough and businesses struggling because of lockdown will increase poverty in the city. Many residents have been asked to shield or isolate, increasing the need for deliveries of food to their doorstep and with families back at home, there is more pressure on heating bills and food supplies.
The food projects and the people they support
Each food project that is supported by the crowdfunder has a unique mission or function, whether it’s the type of food it offers or the specific group it supports. Some projects provide emergency food parcels such as Brighton Food Bank and St Mary Magdalen Church Coldean. The Moulsecoomb Community Market has affordable shopping while Very Local Food Hubs offers low-cost bags of fresh, local produce. Food & Friendship delivers cooked meals to older people in Hove – which included a Christmas Day meal – and Lunch Positive delivers meals and groceries for people living with or affected by HIV. Some are city-wide like The Real Junk Food Project which cooks meals for numerous projects – using surplus food that would otherwise be wasted – and The East Brighton Food Coop which now delivers hundreds of cooked meals each week, drawing on a wide pool of volunteers.
What many groups see on the ground is also reflected in statistics: food poverty in Brighton & Hove is growing in size and breadth. In 2014, 13 emergency food providers distributed an estimated 266 food parcels per week, increasing to 420 per week from 21 providers in 2019.
In the week of 27th April 2020, 3,000 emergency food parcels were delivered by over 40 emergency food projects. The Covid-19 pandemic has led many to seek emergency food relief but surveys of organisations in 2019 and 2020 identify low income as the primary or secondary reason for emergency food use, highlighting the impact of low wages and in-work poverty that existed before the pandemic, and will certainly exist afterwards.
Emergency food and food banks are not the only way the city has responded to issues of food poverty, as several affordable food schemes have started across Brighton & Hove. These community projects offer a range of food and household items for shoppers at affordable prices, aiming to be sustainably run by the community long-term. Several projects in our crowdfunder, such as Food & Friendship and Lunch Positive, aim to bring people together for socially-distant meals to strengthen community ties and tackle the isolation and loneliness that many have felt this year.
Donations from individuals, groups and local businesses
It is clear that a diverse range of people are experiencing food poverty in Brighton & Hove with a variety of local groups taking action to provide specialist support. Our crowdfunder has also seen a diversity in those generously donating to support these 18 projects.
We have had donations from more than 360 individuals, sometimes given instead of Christmas presents or their usual festive night out. As one person wrote: “From my elderly parents who don’t want Christmas presents and would rather money went to others who need it more”. We thank everyone for their generosity.
Several local businesses and community organisations have donated, often in place of staff gifts or a Christmas party such as the Sussex Fire Place Gallery, or pooling money from a group of people like the National Union of Journalists. The Edit has generously collected and donated toiletries and other items for our distribution hub to send out with food parcels, and Infinity Foods has kindly helped us with a variety of donations.
Local businesses and individuals have raised money through all or part of their proceeds such as The Dyke Alehouse who donate £2 from every meal, Loud Shirt Brewing Co which donate 10p from every can of Rapture IPA, and Murielle, a very talented supporter who raised over a thousand pounds from lovely knitted items sold online. Sports groups and teams have also clubbed together to support us, such as the Brighton & Hove Indiana Cobras who have generously donated to our crowdfunder and the Brighton Beach Tennis Club who collected food and items for our hub.
One person on our crowdfunder page wrote “Brighton’s a generous-hearted place so let’s help each other” and we know from our list of supporters that this true with so many people and groups donating money, time or food this winter. We at Brighton & Hove Food Partnership are incredibly thankful to everyone who has donated, and we hope this strong support across the city continues into the future as food poverty is not just for Christmas or winter so neither should be our support.