Report of the Director of Community and Children’s Services.
The Committee received a report of the Director of Community and Children’s Services in respect of affordable food provision in the City of London and a food pantry model, which is being explored.
During the discussion on this matter, the following points were noted:
1. Supermarkets in the City tend to cater more for officer workers than family household budgets.
2. Some ethnic groups have specific dietary requirements and are being adversely affected by the increase in cooking oil prices.
3. Foodbanks are running out of supplies as people cannot afford to donate. London Plus have been working with foodbanks in London and might be able to offer advice.
4. In terms of communications, Members noted that Sylheti is more widely spoken in the UK than Bengali. Whilst Ward Members are very happy to assist residents with language/reading obstacles, they would like them to feel more empowered.
5. The Director reminded Members that the First Love Foundation, which had been appointed to run the food bank, do not have the same communications issues in Tower Hamlets as have been perceived in the City. The previous report on this matter set out the issues concerning the lack of data, due to GDPR implications, and how need could be measured.
6. The Committee received regular updates on poverty levels in the City, and this had been covered in a recent public health ‘for information’ report.
7. At a recent presentation, the Communication Director had been asked to carry out a City-wide survey and the Resource Allocation Sub Committee had agreed the funding, in principle. The responses from the survey will be captured in the next iteration of this report, which will link in to other work underway on understanding poverty and need in the City of London.
8. Officers would be visiting a pantry set up via this franchise in Peckham, to look at their supply infrastructure. It was suggested that St Luke’s Community Centre could also offer advice. A Member, who is also a Trustee at St Luke’s, offered to raise this at their next meeting.
9. As the proposal is for a food club, and not a food bank, this will remove some of the stigma, as people will be contributing as part of a community and can help to run the service. Supermarkets cannot offer this, and it would take considerable time to get another supermarket in the City.
10. Peer researchers would be working with residents in the East, starting in mid-July, and Members would receive a report at the November meeting of the Committee. The Director advised that, in the interim, there would be extra communications about food support. Members were concerned about the rise in energy prices in the Autumn, so the City Corporation would need to be ready.
11. The Director agreed to feed back in terms of what might be possible and realistic in terms of a Food Strategy, within current resources and the Terms of Reference of this Committee, and whether this could be expanded into a Poverty Strategy, as part of the wider work being undertaken on poverty.
RESOLVED, that – the report be noted.