Coventry University to lead new project tackling food poverty

University news

Tuesday 29 March 2016

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Coventry University is leading a new initiative to address food poverty as part of a nationwide series of social innovation projects backed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Coventry is leading the Appetite for Change (A4C) project to look at ways in which universities can work with their communities to combat food poverty through an alternative local food system.   

The project will be running in six localities throughout the UK from April until September next year. Other partners involved are the University of the West of England, Abertay University, the Open University, the University of Lincoln and the New Vic Borderlines - a community initiative delivered by the New Vic Theatre.

In the UK, many families are struggling to pay for food and yet at the same time food waste is increasing. It is a complex problem and universities - possessing a wealth of expert knowledge, business acumen and experience in bringing together different disciplines and stakeholders - can play a leading role in tackling the issue. 

On a practical level, A4C will set up Food Action Community Teams (FACTs) to work with existing support groups and other agencies to identify local challenges, share ideas and devise practical actions to contribute towards improving the food shortage situation in their local community. They’ll promote this work through a series of educational workshops for residents that will be running throughout the duration of the project at various settings, including local food banks.

It is anticipated that the project will kick start community initiatives and encourage more local food suppliers to set up as well as offering advice on good nutrition to residents and spreading the word about how people can cut their food costs through things like buying particular foodstuffs and avoiding others, minimising waste and even growing their own food.

Sinead Quillon from Coventry University is leading the Appetite for Change project. She said:

Community engagement is an increasingly important aspect of the University’s role so we’re delighted to be leading on this project tackling food poverty. There is some great work in this area already being undertaken in Coventry and we believe we can build on that.

We can offer expert advice on food production systems and supply as well as guidance on diet and nutrition. We also have significant experience in building businesses and helping local entrepreneurs and as part of our activity we hope to be able to offer support to socially enterprising start-ups that can help fight food poverty at a local level.”

Appetite for Change will conclude in September 2017 with a celebratory feast based on the sustainable principles of the project and involving all participants. The final report of the project will be submitted to Feeding Britain charity and HEFCE for consideration and action.