Food justice and poverty networking event

On 1st May the Bristol Poverty Institute‘s Food and Nutrition Cluster, local charity Feeding Bristol, and the UoB Food Justice Network came together for a workshop exploring how we can collaborate to tackle issues of food justice and poverty. The event kicked off with short presentations from the three hosts, introducing ourselves and our respective work and ambitions. The Director of Feeding Bristol, Ped Asgarian, along with his colleague Jo then provided an overview of the food support landscape in the city of Bristol, sharing some eye-opening stats on levels of deprivation as well as links between poverty and obesity and the impacts of the cost of living on organisations trying to support people who are struggling. They provided details on a range of food support settings that they work with, including food banks, community fridges and school holiday clubs, highlighting the different ways in which people and communities are supported to obtain food in the city. This interestingly intersects with some recent research from one of the BPI’s members, Dr Will Baker, whose work on the rise of food charity in schools has recently generated media attention.

Photograph of Feeding Bristol presentationScreenshot of presentation slide listing different food support settings

The Feeding Bristol team then went on to outline the challenges that many food support organisations are facing, particularly in terms of funding and resource. This has been driven largely by the rising cost of living, making it more expensive to run the organisations, driving more people to seek help, and also giving everyone less cash in their pockets therefore reducing the amount of charitable donations made. Other contributing factors included the shift away from ‘best before’ dates on some fresh produce in supermarkets, which has meant that food which was previously surplus is no longer available as it remains on the shelves for longer. Even with the best of intentions, it simply isn’t possible to keep some initiatives going. Ped then went on to introduce their Food Equality Strategy and Action Plan, which outlines how they are working with different organisations and embedding and delivering their work on food justice in the city and interacting with national and international work in this space.

Screenshot of slide providing information on Food Equality Strategy and Action Plan

Inspired by the opening presentations, we then moved into breakout groups where we explored shared interests and opportunities for collaboration. The focus of the breakout sessions was to establish ways that UoB researchers can effectively collaborate with Feeding Bristol and the wider community. We explored a range of topics in the different groups, including the importance of food education, the role (and duty) the University has to its students who may be facing food poverty, social aspects of food and how food and culture intersect, and the value of listening to different perspectives on what ‘food justice’ means to different people and communities and what the barriers are.

Photographs of breakout groups

The discussion was really engaging, and could have gone on for much longer, and provided some really great ideas for the focus and format of our next joint event in July coinciding with Feeding Bristol’s annual Food Justice Fortnight. We’re really looking forward to working with our colleagues from the Food Justice Network and Feeding Bristol to develop these plans in the coming weeks. The event has been pencilled in for the afternoon of Thursday 4th July, and we plan to create an open space to share ideas and bring together diverse voices, perspectives and understandings of what ‘food justice’ means and how it can be achieved. Do save the date and keep an eye on the BPI events page for more information in due course, or contact Joe ( if you would like to be notified when event registration launches.