Covid-19 Emergency Food Response – case study

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit hard in 2020, the Food Partnership was asked by the council to lead the city’s emergency food response. We are often asked to share the story of how the city responded, so we have created this page to share relevant resources.

photo by Ian Kelsey Photography (

Just before lockdown was announced, we chaired a face-to-face meeting of the city’s Emergency Food Network. Two things became immediately clear from this meeting:

– There would not be enough food available through collection of surplus to meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable residents
– Food banks didn’t have the capacity to meet the needs of all vulnerable local residents.

Plugging these gaps became the priority for us over the months of lockdown that ensued. As an organisation with a long history of effective relationship-building across Brighton & Hove’s food system, we were ideally placed to lead on this response. By the middle of lockdown, emergency food parcel provision had increased by 71%, from 420 weekly emergency food parcel distributions to 3,001.

Some of the crucial factors enabling this scale of response were:

  • lunch positive mealsWorking as a food partnership that was able to build upon a long history of successful and trusting cross-sectoral relationships across the city, enabling the work to be carried out with the necessary speed.
  • A ‘cell structure’ to co-ordinate action, working across departments on key themes to make  sure all areas were covered. The Food Partnership co-led this ‘cell’, building on our pre-existing connections across the city to make sure the food cell addressed a range of issues related to food poverty. This included financial support, specialist support for drug and alcohol dependent people, and sourcing cleaning materials.
  • Setting up a central processing hub, where we organised wholesale and surplus food and distributed it to food banks and meal projects. This supported a citywide network of 50 neighbourhood food hubs.
  • A network approach, that meant that volunteer-led hubs were provided with a range of information about support, as well as food.

The case studies and blogs below provide more detailed information about our Covid-19 food response. We hope that these case studies shine a light on existing food insecurities and make a case for collaborative partnership working that focusses on longer-term and preventative agendas to food insecurity.

Case Studies:


Share this:

You may also be interested in: