Help for people with food insecurity

Several initiatives in communities across Aberdeen are helping to alleviate food insecurity, a committee heard today.

Aberdeen City Council’s operational delivery committee members agreed to support the developing proposals for use of £175,000 of funding and the actions to further address food insecurity.

Work is being carried out with partners and community groups including how to get to hard-to-reach groups, maximising income, investigating the establishment of further community pantries, and actions are also being taken to increase take up of free school meals in secondary schools.

Aberdeen City Council housing spokesperson Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: “A huge amount of excellent work has already been carried out to alleviate food insecurity across the city both before and during the pandemic.

“It is good to hear of plans to develop this work further and we also thank the many volunteers who have helped with the effort so far.”

A report to committee told of the outstanding work that had been undertaken through the City Council’s Participatory Budgeting process which allocated £1.64million to help support vulnerable groups and individuals in priority locality areas. This included the distribution of 484 tonnes of free food which equates to 1.4million meals throughout the year, and the establishment of three community pantries.

Two of the council-agreed aims in the Local Outcome Improvement Plan is that “no-one in Aberdeen will go without food due to poverty by 2026” and “increasing food resilience at individual and community level by establishing self-governing community co-operatives to offer further supportive ways of providing food”.

The report said income maximisation activity is already extensive across the city, with the council’s own Financial Inclusion Team helping to achieve more than £4.4million in unclaimed benefit payments, and partnership approaches with Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) through the FAF established.

On that basis, it was decided that the £175,000 funding would be best used to focus on tackling food insecurity, on the understanding that this too would help maximise income in a different way. The focus of this additional £175,000 funding from the council is therefore on sustainable solutions and supporting people out of poverty delivering additional pantries with access to wider support services such as financial advice services.

The report to committee said through the pandemic, voluntary organisations have provided exceptional support for people affected by food poverty. These endeavours have been supported by a tremendous volunteering effort and donations from individuals and the business community.

The council has assisted through its Crisis Support arrangements and distribution of vouchers for people entitled to free school meals, and also provided extensive financial support throughout the response to the pandemic to tackle food insecurity and poverty, including through the Lord Provost’s Charitable Trust.