COMMUNITIES REAP THE REWARDS OF FOOD FUTURES FUNDING
Community groups across Falkirk are reaping the rewards of a £300,000 funding pot for food and growing.
Forth Environment Link has been working with twenty local groups over the past six months to help bring their ideas to life, thanks to the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund.
Inspiring local food initiatives to receive Falkirk Food Futures funding include Larbert and District Childminders Association’s allotment project.
The Association was awarded £5688 to develop an allotment space for kids, where they are now growing and distributing food to locals in need.
Hazel Donaldson of Larbert District Childminders said: “'It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment to see the look of enjoyment and excitement on the children's faces when they visit the allotment. They have been learning how to care for the plants and harvest the fruit and vegetables.”
She added: “The children have seen the whole life cycle of what they have grown, from plot to plate.”
A community pantry run by First Step Development, has also benefitted from the fund; receiving £10,608 to relocate to the Howgate Centre and help expand the project’s reach.
Maria Throp, Development Manager at First Step said: “The Falkirk Food Futures funding has been amazing! It has enabled us to work together as a community; bringing together local people and businesses to set up a community pantry at the Howgate Centre.
“We’re not only reducing food waste by distributing many tonnes of donated food from businesses including M&S, the CO-OP, Morrisons and Tesco, we’re also providing food to over two hundred people each week.
“This number is growing every week. Many people are struggling with the increasing cost of living. Thankfully, we receive lots of lovely treats that are out of reach for many. It's great for us to see people’s faces light up as they go away with lovely flowers or fancy cakes!”
Meanwhile Falkirk’s Rainbow Women’s Muslim Group received £5000 to provide healthy eating and sustainable food training; using their funding to run a series of workshops and events over the spring and summer, including cookery classes, a food festival and community dinners.
Sidra Tariq, Project Coordinator of Rainbow Women’s Muslim Group, said: “We’ve been able to accomplish some amazing work with the help of the funding. We’ve been able to improve access to nutritious, sustainable, acceptable and affordable food by creating opportunities for ethnic minority communities to come together and build connections.”
Other groups to benefit include Grangemouth Pantry, which was awarded £23,738 to establish a flexible space to use as a training kitchen, café, lunch club and youth drop in.
One volunteer commented: “I love volunteering in the community cafe, it makes me feel like I'm part of something positive and it makes people happy to be involved.”
While Westfield Community Project was awarded £15,720 to run a “What’s for Tea” Activity Club for P4-P7 kids, teaching youngsters about cooking and nutrition.
One parent commented: “My kids were so proud of themselves because they made dinner for all the family."
A special Falkirk Food Futures photography exhibition will be held at Forth Environment Link’s Active Travel Hub (203 High Street) later this month to celebrate the positive impacts of the project.
Featuring images of many of the groups to receive a share of the funding, the exhibition will run from Thursday 18 August until Saturday 20 August, 10am-5pm, with free admission and free seedling and growing kits to take home.
Photographer Julie Howden has been documenting the project’s progress. She said:
“Photographing the community groups has been a very enriching experience. My camera has allowed me to witness first hand how the Falkirk Food Futures Fund has empowered communities across Falkirk to take the steps they need to make their vision a reality.
“From purchasing new kitchens for community centres to buying polytunnels for community gardens, the fund has helped community groups tackle societal problems such as isolation, limited access to affordable and nutritious food and diet-related health issues.
“By running cookery workshops and community cafes, groups are bringing members of the community together (one man told me he didn’t know where’d he be without it) and expanding local organic fruit and vegetable growing capacity.
“In an era of increasing anxiety about food insecurity and an ever-spiralling cost of living crisis, it is impressive and comforting to see local community groups taking positive action.”
Falkirk Food Futures is a partnership project funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund. The partnership comprises of Forth Environment Link, Falkirk Council, NHS Forth Valley and CVS Falkirk.
The UK Community Renewal Fund is a UK Government programme for 2021/22. It aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment.
For further information about our Falkirk Food Futures Exhibition please be in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org