Last week GMPA launched Greater Manchester’s first ever Food Poverty Action Plan to a packed hall in Manchester. The Action Plan was the culmination of 10 months work by over 100 people and organisations, which I have had the privilege of coordinating.
With over 600,000 people, including 200,000 children, living in poverty in Greater Manchester and food bank use higher in the city region than most other parts of the country, the plan calls for action by organisations across all sectors to help prevent people falling into poverty, and to support people relying on food handouts out of poverty through advice, support and signposting.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who wrote the foreword for the Action Plan, spoke at the event and pledged that he would write to every public body in Greater Manchester, asking them to implement this plan at the local level.
To read the summary or full action plan please go to the GM Food Poverty Action Plan page
Among many other things, the action plan calls for:
- A joined-up response on the ground – the provision of debt, welfare advice and other support alongside the provision of food handouts and support, so that people get the most appropriate help as quickly as possible;
- More longer-term options for people in need of food support, such as food clubs, pantries and community grocers, to match the level of support provided for people in moments of crisis;
- A lead for poverty to be appointed by the GM Combined Authority and each of Greater Manchester’s ten councils;
- Schools to increase uptake of free school meals, and to work with local businesses and charities to run breakfast clubs, while supporting coordinated action on holiday hunger;
- A campaign to increase uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers, an NHS scheme that supports parents on low incomes to buy healthy food for their young children. GMPA estimates around £3.6million worth of vouchers went unclaimed in Greater Manchester last year;
- Health services to expand social prescribing for healthy food-related activities such as cooking classes and food growing, and to work with charities and businesses to promote healthy food.
The full plan has more than 70 actions, including something for each organisation in every sector and every borough of Greater Manchester to do, to play their part in tackling food poverty. You can find both the summary and the full Action Plan (the more detailed full version will evolve as the plan is implemented, hence the more minimalist presentation) here, along with more information about the Food Poverty Alliance and how it has co-produced the Action Plan.
To continue coordinating the work of the Food Poverty Alliance, we also need to secure additional project funding and are asking organisations across Greater Manchester to pledge financial support to help us recruit a full-time project worker who will:
• Drive forward the recommended actions in the Action Plan, working with partners and allies across all sectors and in all boroughs to encourage action and to provide support and advice;
• Convene open meetings between all stakeholders who are taking action on food poverty, to encourage a joined-up response and evidence-based action;
• Work with the food support sector (food banks, food clubs etc) to ensure provision matches people’s and
• Ensure that food poverty action is joined up with other action on food.
A funding proposal and budget is available on request from email@example.com.
With the plan launched, now we need to make it a reality, with joined-up efforts to reduce and prevent food poverty for thousands of people all across Greater Manchester. More than 50 pledges have already been made by people and organisations across Greater Manchester. Can you pledge to take action on food poverty by starting to implement one or more of the actions in the Plan? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org