Payback Pathways to Healthy Eating and Food Security


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 Food poverty exacerbated by the cost-of-living-crisis is a growing problem across the UK. New initiatives are therefore needed to bridge the resulting food gap. In 2022 we used Awards for All funding to do this by enlisting Probation Services Community Payback Teams (CP) to set up and run community growing spaces. This provided a model of good practice for combating food poverty by growing fresh food for donation to pantries

This was a great success but one of the key lessons learnt was that just growing fresh food is not enough. Often people in food poverty are not equipped to use fresh foods to create healthy meals and are thrown back onto reliance on cheap unhealthy ready meals eg surplus potatoes  swapped for tins of beans and other ultra processed foods. crisis#:~:text=Overall%2C%2061%25%20said%20the%20cost;due%20to%20stress%20(15%25)

 This reliance on cheap unhealthy foods has negative impacts. 1) it increases obesity rates in the UK 2) The production of the cheap meats that are often used is contributing to the problem of climate change.

So we will now  build a model of good practice that not only continues CP-supported healthy fresh food production, but also processes it into healthy ready meals prepared by CP teams and distributed through Pantries. CP teams will also be trained in mushroom cultivation to replace the use of cheap meat in the ready meals. Mushrooms provide all the same necessary proteins as meat, but don’t have the same carbon footprint associated with production of cheap meat. During Covid ready meals were produced by community kitchens but this stopped at the end of lockdown due to lack of volunteers and supplies. The cost-of-living-crisis means they are needed again to combat food poverty, so we’ll reopen these facilities and begin by producing 100 meals per week over 3 sites.