Civil society looks beyond food aid

New report highlights how funders are answering widespread calls for real, long-term food security in their communities.

1st June 2023

In the wake of the PM’s food summit, our new report Beyond charitable food aid responds to urgent calls for real, sustainable and long-lasting food security from leaders across sectors. The report is the result of a collaboration between FFCC, Local Trust and International Futures Forum – and shows how civil society can lead the way in delivering food to those who need it most in a way that also tackles the triple challenge of climate, nature and health.

It suggests that a transition away from short-term solutions towards a ‘best of both worlds’ approach that also looks to the long term can help citizens access healthy food both now and in the future.

This timely report comes shortly after the much anticipated Food Security Summit at No.10 and the concerns that were raised over its narrow focus, and risk that focusing exclusively on food security becomes a rationale for continuing business as usual.

The report highlights some of the complexities and contradictions of the food aid model, pointing to the unsustainable supply chains that create the waste or surplus food going into food aid initiatives, and exacerbate a race to the bottom when it comes to quality, nutrition and sustainability in food.

Drawing on the work of funders and civil society organisations across UK nations, it highlights the inspiring changes already underway to overcome these systemic challenges and find agile ways of working that build long-term community food security.

The report provides recommendations for how the sector can implement a blended approach to drive this change forward at pace and scale, addressing people’s immediate need for food while at the same time shifting towards sustainable and healthy community-based food systems in the longer term.

The report’s author, Dr Courtney Scott, said, “Neither food waste nor food insecurity should exist. While there are undoubtedly tensions and dilemmas between meeting the immediate issue of rising food insecurity and the actions needed to deliver long-term, systemic change, there can be a ‘best of both worlds’ solution.

We hope that policymakers and industry leaders can draw inspiration from the bold approach of many funders and community organisations and demonstrate ambitious leadership for the courageous and urgent action that is needed to build real UK food security.”

Next month, the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission will ask UK citizens what they really want from food, and food security, as part of the UK’s biggest ever conversation about food.