Brighton & Hove’s Emergency Food Network, established back in 2013, has been given a major cash boost after city councillors voted to invest £300,000 to help feed thousands of people over the coming year.
The money will go towards emergency meals, food parcels and food banks, amid concerns by the council that the increasing costs of living will see many Brighton & Hove residents sadly experience food poverty.
The Emergency Food Network is still operating at a 240% increase from pre-pandemic levels, with the expectation that this number will increase:
Council Leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: "We know that this will be a difficult winter for many of our residents with many households struggling. The council and many different organisations want to do everything in our power to help.
"With the end of furlough and the £20 universal credit uplift removed, as well as the increased vulnerability of some people during the winter as they juggle between heating and eating, the Emergency Food Network is a vital defence in the oncoming storm."
During the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of the city’s response to supporting vulnerable households, a city-wide network of 50 neighbourhood food hubs was co-ordinated by the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, with at least 36 organisations likely to remain open.
In 2020 the city council set up a special pandemic response team to focus on food bringing partners together to work strategically on food poverty and food access.
The council funded an initial £45,000 in March 2020 and a further £124,500 for the period June to August 2020 to cover emergency food provision.
Councillor Mac Cafferty added: "Over the past year the city council has prioritised funding for the most marginalised. Our focus now turns to deepening support for children’s centre food banks and funding for emergency food providers. We’re also exploring the need for a council-led meals on wheels service.
"The new funding will go towards food projects and continuing to support organisations to help feed Brighton & Hove’s communities.
"We’ll also be reviewing support needed for food organisations for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and also refugee and asylum seekers. National research highlights that BME communities experience higher levels of food insecurity.
"There’s a huge amount of work going on in the city on food. I want to thank the many council staff, volunteers, partner organisations, businesses and everyone else who has been involved in feeding people in the city. This is work that we can all be very proud of."