Year 1 of the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan
By Tom Skinner
It is a year since we launched the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan with 150 people and organisations who had co-produced the Action Plan in our Food Poverty Alliance project. This article reviews the first year of progress towards the Plan’s vision, that “everyone in Greater Manchester enjoys good food and a better standard of living, and they look out for each other.”
Through the Food Poverty Alliance, 50 individuals and organisations have made over 100 pledges of action towards the Action Plan’s vision, including:
- Apex Storage making five storage units available for individuals and businesses to donate unwanted cooking
and gardening equipment that Cracking Good Food pass on to communities in need;
- Kellogg’s reaching 70 local schools with breakfast club grants;
- Sow the City mapping food provision in North Manchester – they have recently been commissioned to map in
South Manchester as well, and aim to support mapping across GM;
- The Salford Food Share Network supporting other boroughs to consider the potential for partnerships between
food banks, food clubs and pantries, advice agencies, the council and other stakeholders;
- Several Housing associations, councils and charities coordinating provision of food with activities for children
and young people during school holidays.
We are working closely with most councils across GM, as well as GM Mayor Andy Burnham, the GM Combined Authority and the Health & Social Care Partnership, to discuss actions that can be taken by the public sector at the GM and borough level. For example, Tameside has:
- established a strategic food partnership with food poverty as one of its themes;
- included questions about food poverty in its public consultation survey and commissioned qualitative research
to help understand how food poverty impacts residents, and the challenges for food banks and food pantries;
- taken action (which is ongoing) to increase uptake of Healthy Start vouchers.
Another important activity has been to embed food poverty, and the Action Plan specifically, in the wider efforts to develop a comprehensive food strategy for the city region. These efforts are being led by GM’s strategic food board Good Food Greater Manchester, of which GMPA is a member. We are currently exploring how efforts to tackle food poverty can complement other sections of the food strategy, and are supporting a series of workshops to develop a cohesive and widely supported strategy.
Since the launch of the Action Plan, GMPA has seen encouraging increased interest in tackling poverty at a local level. Some local authorities are developing and implementing anti-poverty strategies, and there is significant interest in engaging people with lived experience of poverty in decision making e.g. through poverty truth commissions. We continue to campaign for employers across the city region to tackle in-work poverty by becoming accredited Living Wage Employers and signing up to the GM Good Employment Charter. There are now over 200 accredited Living Wage Employers based here, including Salford, Oldham and Manchester councils – see page 2 for more news from the GM Living Wage Campaign, another GMPA project.
While I am delighted with the progress made in the first year of the Action Plan, there is much more to be done and GMPA remains committed to tackling food poverty and its underlying causes.
Director, GM Poverty Action