Alexandra Rose Charity joins Sustain and Growing Communities to help make climate friendly diets open to all

[Photo: Good Food Box, Granville Community Kitchen by Jonathan Goldberg]

We are hugely excited and proud to be part of the new Bridging the Gap programme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

We join Sustain and Growing Communities, alongside Food Sense Wales, Nourish Scotland and Nourish Northern Ireland, to bring together local organisations and trading enterprises, with the goal of making climate and nature friendly foods available to people on lower incomes.

“At Alexandra Rose Charity, we have pioneered financial incentives to combat food insecurity and improve diets for families on low incomes across the UK. Our work on the Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg Project has shown that it’s possible to incentivise improved access for healthy food. We’re excited by the potential of the Bridging the Gap programme to prove that this can be extended to include access not only to healthy, but also sustainable food that’s good for people as well as the planet.”

Jonathan Pauling, Chief Executive at Alexandra Rose Charity

At a time when we have seen over 300 areas declare a climate and nature emergency, coupled with a dramatic increase in emergency food bank use, this programme is particularly important.

The Trussell Trust alone is recording a 31% rise in demand for emergency food, over the past 5 years. The cost of living crisis is adding additional pressure to households on low incomes, who, according to Food Foundation, often have to spend 40% of their income on food if they want to meet healthy eating recommendations. This is compared to just 7% of disposable income for the richest fifth of the population.

This not only exacerbates health inequalities but also makes many foods produced in ways that we need to encourage, such as sustainably grown fruit and veg, out of reach of those on a lower income.

Key to the success of the Bridging the Gap programme will be working with existing food supply chains or community food traders and creating viable and sustainable long-term solutions that move away from emergency food aid.

We want to ensure we transition from food aid to food trade’ to provide healthy, affordable, planet-friendly food for all. Food that is good for people and the planet, benefits communities and supports decent livelihoods is currently more expensive than food that is bad for health and produced in ways that damage the planet. If we’re serious about tackling the combined crises of the cost of living, climate emergency and social justice head-on, we need to make healthy, climate-friendly diets the norm and available to all.”

Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive of national food and farming charity Sustain

“Previous programmes have tended to focus on either providing food to people on low incomes or building the climate- and nature-friendly supply chain. With this ground-breaking programme, we have the opportunity to test and explore models of food provision that do both at the same time. It will be challenging, and much-needed work and we are very grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund for supporting it.”

Julie Brown, Director of Growing Communities

The programme will avoid embedding problems such as low incomes for food workers, and food waste caused by over-production for high-volume supermarket supply. The team welcomes involvement from other organisations addressing these issues and will be recruiting advisors for a collaboration group.