Last night saw the launch of A Menu for Change at the Scottish Parliament. Staff and volunteers from community projects, as well as statutory services, elected representatives, policy makers, and local people attended to learn about this exciting new project and how they can be involved.
The event laid out clearly our strategic intent for the Project – to end the need for food bank use in Scotland. It was clear from the different presentations and discussions that this is a widely shared vision. By working collaboratively with local projects and services, A Menu for Change will improve the support people get when they face a crisis.
We know that food insecurity is a problem of lack of income, so we believe the best solutions are those which increase people’s access to cash so they can afford their own food.
In developing this project we spoke to food bank providers and others supporting people in crisis who told us that they wanted to have a stronger voice – to be able to bring their experiences to influencing policy and practice change both locally and nationally.
We want to learn from local services across the country about what they are doing to address food insecurity. We want to hear from you if you are involved in community food activities or work to help maximise incomes, provide welfare rights or money advice, improve access to affordable credit, or other activities which seek to mitigate the problems which mean people end up with no money for food.
We’re also keen to understand the successes and challenges you’ve experienced in this work and what’s worked and what hasn’t. What has enabled you to achieve positive outcomes for people, and what have been the main barriers?
While A Menu for Change will be working intensively in three local authority areas, we will be looking to identify best practice from across the country and facilitating networking and learning opportunities for all who are keen to be involved.
We heard yesterday from Martin Cawley, Director of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, that the three words he feels sum up A Menu for Change are citizenship, collaboration and leadership.
Through this project we’ll be calling on local services to step up to the plate and act as leaders in championing progressive solutions to food insecurity. This will require close collaboration across different sectors, building on existing networks as well as developing new partnerships.
Ultimately this work is about upholding the principles of citizenship, ensuring people have access to their rights and entitlements and are not forced to rely on charity. We recognise this is no small ask. But as was highlighted yesterday by Jeane Freeman the Minister for Social Security, now is a golden opportunity in Scotland to act to reverse the entrenchment of food banks within our safety net.
We want to harness your energy and anger at the injustice of food insecurity to help us achieve this ambitious goal. Over the coming weeks and months our Project Team will be out and about getting to know local projects and services and discussing how we can work together. We will be promoting our events, publications and other updates here. If you are keen to be involved we would love to hear from you.
Get in touch with us today: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Mary Anne MacLeod, Research and Policy Officer