This year has certainly been a rollercoaster for many people, especially families. Seemingly endless days spent entertaining children while juggling home schooling and working from home – impossible, you say? Try to imagine this without knowing how you are going to provide meals for your child on top of everything else. The families who have been hit hardest who are facing food insecurity – and the children at the sharp end of the stick.
If this pandemic has taught us anything it’s that helping people who need it is not impossible, it just needs to be done by those who are willing to do it. Take Marcus Rashford for instance, a young footballer who many would say had no place wading into the holiday hunger debate when the government decided to stop the vouchers supporting families to feed their children. His campaign gathered so much momentum he’s raised £20 million for FareShare, supplied over 3 million meals in the school holidays and got the government to reverse its decision to end it ahead of the school holidays.
Manchester-based housing associations are doing something similar. Irwell Valley Homes and One Manchester have invested in The Good Food Bag which is providing low cost, healthy meal kits to organisations, as well as selling directly to customers in areas of food insecurity. The idea is simple: for just £7 people get a bag with ingredients and a simple step-by-step recipe card to cook a nutritious meal to feed a family of four.
Sasha Deepwell, Chief Exec of Irwell Valley explains, “It’s more than just providing a food parcel, it’s offering choice, it’s developing skills and inspiring confidence, it’s affordable and it’s feeding families right now. We have a few budget friendly food offerings in Manchester, but none are like The Good Food Bag. It’s part of a new trend towards purchased food, planning ahead for if surpluses run out, and providing a more sustainable solution to help people out of food insecurity. The Good Food Bag offers a great way for organisations to invest in real returns, not just a handout, in the communities they serve.”
Jigsaw Homes liked the idea so much they funded 30 families a week to receive The Good Food Bag over the summer holidays. Neighbourhood Engagement Officer Jamie Bell said, “Jigsaw Homes have been working with The Good Food Bag project and Gorton & Clayton Children’s Centres, providing local families with nutritious food over the summer holidays. This has been a challenging time for many families – we wanted to promote healthy eating and learning new skills in the community over summer.”
Registered housing providers have certainly played their part in the pandemic, supporting communities who have been hit hard by lockdown and the subsequent recession. But this problem is not going away anytime soon and the key will be to invest in long terms solutions to issues such as the poverty premium that The Good Food Bag was created to help. Born from the National Housing Federation’s Futures programme, the Good Food Bag is focused on solutions to turn the poverty premium on its head and provide low cost, high quality food to families on their doorsteps.
Nicole Kershaw, Chief Exec at One Manchester said, “The Good Food Bag is a great way to help those families hardest hit by the pandemic. It’s not a handout, it’s a helping hand when people need it most. With The Good Food Bag, I know we can make a difference to people’s lives.” At a time when making a difference counts more than ever, find out how you can get involved.