£500,000 for Falkirk green charity to help people get better access to food

£500,000 for Falkirk green charity to help people get better access to food

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 3:23 pm

A green charity has been awarded more than £500,000 to help people in Falkirk get better access to good food through projects that will also improve health and well-being and care for the environment.

From helping communities to ‘grow their own’ to training volunteers in new skills, Forth Environment Link plans to make good use the £534,054 from the UK government’s Community Renewal Fund.

Local community groups will be able to apply for grants of between £5000-£30,000 to fund new or existing food projects that improve access to nutritious, affordable food in a sustainable and dignified way.

Forth Environment Link plans to make good use the £534,054 from the UK government’s Community Renewal Fund.

The idea is not to provide more food banks or pantries – but a key focus will be increasing the availability and use of seasonal, locally grown and produced food

Emily Harvey, development manager for Forth Environment Link, explained: “We’re hoping that communities will apply for things such as a community garden or running a kitchen or having a support service with food – to basically help make things better in the longer term, not just the immediate short-term.

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“The grants are not about giving the community money to buy food – it’s about supporting organisations to develop food activity with more of a focus on the future.”

Forth Environment Link plans to make good use the £534,054 from the UK government’s Community Renewal Fund.

Their focus will be on projects that will help local organisations become sustainable – so, it will be more than just cookery classes.

And with COP26 still fresh in people’s minds, it’s a good time to start.

“We’ll be looking at how we make food climate friendly and enhance the resilience of our food system,” said Emily.

“And it’s not just about growing the food – people really felt the benefits of being outside during Covid and a lot of people felt safer to interact when they were outdoors.”

Other courses will include digital training and helping young people get more involved with food.

The Falkirk Food Futures project – which should start in earnest in a few weeks – will see the charity work alongside Falkirk Council, NHS Forth Valley, CVS Falkirk and local third sector groups.

And they have already consulted widely about what is really needed in the wake of Covid-19.

Emily said: “What we’re hearing is the crippling amount of effort that went on through the pandemic and people being tired and not enough resources to really help people who needed help.”

One of the programmes will be mental health training to support some of the volunteers who were on the frontline through the worst of the pandemic – and who saw close-up the anxiety and isolation it caused.

Emily added: “This project is never more needed. Covid-19 has thrown food inequalities into sharp focus and Falkirk’s Covid Emergency Food Volunteers have been under intense pressure to keep up with demand.

“This project will help community projects build capacity, create new local food jobs, improve access to good food – not just anything surplus - and boost the health and well-being of all our communities.

“The funding represents a significant investment in local food, that has the potential to transform Falkirk’s food system in the long term.”

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