A refocus on food justice

Mar 20, 2024 | Blog

On 20th February we hosted a Food Justice workshop led by food campaign organisation This is Rubbish, which educates and campaigns for systemic change regarding food waste and food insecurity. They believe that people living and working on the frontlines of these issues are best placed to develop solutions to challenge a food system that puts profit before people and planet. 

Whilst acknowledging the importance of crisis food support in our current climate, the workshop challenged us to think beyond the short-term solution of using food waste to tackle food poverty.  

Food banks and redistribution projects have grown significantly in recent years in response to demand as more than one in five people in the UK are in poverty (Joseph Rowntree Foundation). Crucially, charitable organisations are working tirelessly to provide millions of food parcels and meals every year for people who otherwise may not have eaten that day. But how do we break this cycle of poverty?  

Food justice is the idea of everyone having access to good quality, affordable and culturally appropriate food that is produced, sold and consumed in a way that cares for people and the planet. Food is a basic human right and household food insecurity is an injustice that nobody should experience. Using this language allows us to go beyond the idea of food poverty purely being due to the circumstances of individuals but rather part of a systemic inequity within our current local, national and global food systems.  

This, of course, was a big topic to address in a two-hour session, but it gave us the space out of our day to connect and reflect on how we may be able to better harness the passion and commitment within the charitable and public sectors and empower communities to work together to build a food justice movement. 

We discussed the challenges for local groups to meet the growing demand for their services and support people out of poverty. Charities are stretched, struggling for time, money and premises to keep providing emergency food aid to provide temporary relief for struggling households. We moved on to look at different models to tackle food security. 

There has been a significant effort locally to offer ‘more than food’ at foodbanks and other providers. One example of this is the partnership between Trussell Trust and Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice where a Food Bank Adviser is now on site at both the Bognor Regis Foodbank and Chichester District Foodbank. This enables support to increase household budgets and refer into other services that food bank clients may need.  

We talked about brilliant initiatives across the UK including community kitchens, food cooperatives, mutual aid groups and community supported agriculture. People brought up the success of public figures such as Jamie Oliver and Marcus Rashford who have used their platforms to drive real change. We also mentioned the Right to Food and the Right to Grow movements, which take a human rights approach to access to food and growing space respectively and have had a powerful effect on improving local food systems, such as the City of Hull granting rights to its residents to repurpose public land for food growing

The session proved to be very inspiring and thought-provoking, and hopefully just the beginning of a series of discussions and actions looking at a local response through the lens of food justice. We would like to thank all that attended the workshop for their time and brilliant contributions, and very much want to continue this conversation.

We would love to hear if you would like to attend a follow up session about what food justice means for Arun and Chichester, how we can begin shifting the narrative and ideas to work together with communities towards long term change.   

Check out our Food Action Booklet here and contact us to express an interest in future workshops on this topic. To stay up to date with all our work sign up to our newsletter here