Lauren Perkin and Andrea Burrows from the Middlesbrough Food Power Alliance attended the meeting to provide an update on work that they are undertaking in relation to transforming the way that people in food poverty access support and create long-term, sustainable lives that were free from hunger.
Members were informed that Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC) successfully obtained £10,000 funding through the Food Power programme to tackle food poverty and food insecurity in Middlesbrough. The funding provided a dedicated member of staff at MEC to coordinate the project. Lauren explained to Members that her role was to engage with representatives from organisations supporting people who were in food poverty and food insecurity. Members were informed that the alliance was working together to create a food poverty action plan addressing four areas: School Holidays, Maximising Income, Surplus Food and Optimising Healthy Start vouchers.
Members were advised that Middlesbrough Food Power had been working with an intern from Teesside University to research the extent of food poverty across Middlesbrough and the current levels of emergency provision that were available in each ward. Following on from this initial research it was decided to focus on mapping the current provision available through the summer holidays identifying a good selection of provision available across the town. However, Members were informed that this had highlighted four key areas of expansion:
More venues - Currently there were 19 different providers of holiday provision however, there were 13360 primary age children currently on roll, 5217 children were entitled to free school meals which indicated that the current venues do not have the capacity to cater to all children.
More external providers - enrichment was very expensive and although there had been some input from external providers there is a need to gain more to make ensure that children are not hungry in body or mind.
More days - the current provision was mostly focused around the summer holidays for two to three days per week. There is a need to support each group to offer at least 12 days provision during the summer holidays and to expand provision across other school holidays.
Strengthening the food offer - the current programmes were working at full capacity and the current meals were sometimes stretched. Providing this area with support would be beneficial to offer a nutritious meal each day.
Middlesbrough Food Power had been working with Middlesbroughs primary schools to see what is currently on offer throughout the school day, after school and during the holidays each school would also be invited to a networking session on 8th November to discuss what each school can do to potentially set up their own holiday provision with the support of Food Power Middlesbrough and Feast of Fun.
Members were advised that in April 2018 organisations, local authorities and charities were invited to bid for a share of The Holiday Activities and Food Research fund to work in partnership for initial research into holiday provision during the 2018 summer holidays. Middlesbrough did not apply for this fund due to a very short deadline. Members heard that further funding would be made available for a pilot programme in the 2019 Easter and summer holidays it was advised that a potential joint bid with Redcar and Cleveland Council would be submitted.
Members were provided with a table that ranked each ward of Middlesbrough against the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) and the population at risk of food poverty. The table highlighted that wards such as Park End and Beckfield were at risk of food poverty but had very little food provision in the area. It was advised that this information would be used to target where future provision could be established.