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Food insecurity in Bristol 16/07/2017, Health & Lifestyle

This week, I attended a meeting hosted by Mayor Marvin Rees and Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy at City Hall – Bristol City Council’s HQ - entitled Feeding Bristol: How can we work together to end hunger and food insecurity in Bristol?. Despite already having knowledge in this area, I was still shocked, moved, upset by what I heard. I left the meeting even more determined than ever to do something to address what is a totally unacceptable state of affairs. And this in a city celebrated for its food scene, that is the third richest in UK which itself is the fifth richest country on earth.

Kerry McCarthy MP for Bristol East explained that 1 in 4 children in Bristol are in food poverty. That’s tens of thousands of children going to bed hungry in our city. Statistics reveal that whilst over 1 million children growing up in poverty in the UK are receiving free school meals, there are a further 2 million children with working parents in poverty who do not qualify for free school meals. During school holidays, no provision is made for such children unless a local volunteer group steps in.

Many questions were raised for me during the meeting. Why and how is this happening? What is being done about it? How can I help? How can fresh-range help?

The good news is that there are many people across the city and across the UK determined to make changes. There are All Party Parliamentary Groups that have been formed to lobby for legislative changes to end hunger in the school holidays and there are charity and volunteer groups sprouting up across the country to help in local neighbourhoods. But next week, the summer holidays start and there are only a small fraction of the districts in Bristol with such support in place. We have a very long way to go to tackle this problem.

In 2013, we formed fresh-range to develop shorter, lighter, faster supply chains with a view to developing food security for generations to come. We’re on a mission to change food supply for good. Thousands of people across the region are now eating fresh food supplied by fresh-range including some of our most vulnerable children in the region via our deliveries to schools.

However, it became clear to me that this issue needs to be more widely addressed and I am giving careful thought as to how we can help. For now, this blog is a marker of my commitment to finding a sustainable route to help with this problem across the West of England.

Rich Osborn, fresh-range Founder & CEO