We are in the midst of a food poverty crisis, the likes of which we have not seen in modern times – millions of people are having to go without food and everyday basics. Hunger prevents children from achieving their potential and adults from living meaningful lives.
At Can Cook/Well-Fed, we are committed to solving food poverty and absolutely believe it can be achieved. In fact, we believe that – if all the stakeholders involved in food aid wanted it – food poverty could be solved within two years, regardless of the current cost of living crisis.
Our work has always focused on providing a solution to hunger. This is how we go about it, making sure every hungry person we meet has access to good fresh food.
We use profits from our social food business, which produces our own range of fresh meals, cook-at-home recipe boxes, and caters commercially, to feed hungry people great food. To do so, we have introduced a meal subsidy, allowing everyone to access meals at a price they can afford.
Subsidising meals is an important route to solving food poverty. We know that good food is already priced out of the financial grasp of millions of households, this means poor-processed-food becomes the dietary default – this does not need to happen.
For us, subsidy and enabling everyone to pay is much more than a commercial transaction. It’s about need, hope and our collective futures. Subsidy is a powerful tool but, most often, it’s used for those who need it the least – like big companies.
We have all just received subsidy to our fuel bills, so there’s already a national precedent. Imagine, if a subsidy was created for good food on a national scale – it is achievable and, whilst we campaign for change, we’ve chosen to create a local subsidy to add real value and focus on the wellbeing of the eater.
To make sure the subsidy has a major impact , we operate using four guiding food-aid principles:
We want to move people away from the dependency of charity and onto being consumers of their own wellbeing.
If people are fed well, they are more likely to cope well. If people don’t eat well, they will be less likely to cope.
If people are able to eat well, they are not in food poverty. They may still be in poverty, but eating well stops food poverty – therefore;
Food poverty should never be conflated with poverty. Food poverty can be solved, poverty will always exist.
Principles in place, here are our five steps to stopping food poverty:
Focus on the health and wellbeing of the eater and only ever provide real meal options to hungry people
Educate the donor – only ever allow food donors to offer food that will feed hungry people well. This means removing ultra-processed products and only using targeted surplus goods – this also reduces food waste.
Allow people to pay towards their own wellbeing. For example: people pay 30% of the value of the meals/ goods they receive. This can be done – we are doing it.
When households move out of crisis, remain supportive, by providing fresh meal options that can be purchased cheaper than in any supermarkets. This can be done – we are doing it.
Re-align school food with a focus on stopping child hunger – this means all children eat well. This can be done – we are doing it.
In practice, this is our impact:
We create, produce and subsidise our food, this means everyone eats well and is better able to move on with their life.
Parents are able to provide fresh meals for themselves and their families, both when in and out of crisis. This is massively important.
Children are able to study and play well.
People choose to pay towards their own wellbeing, rather than rely on free charity.
When meals are sold and people pay for their food, new revenue streams appear to enable stronger food support services, predicated on education and jobs.
When school food provides for hungry children as the norm, it becomes transformative to children/ families beyond the school gates.
2023 presents everyone interested in stopping hunger and people eating well, with the opportunity to focus on the eater as the main outcome. To do so, will mean hungry people will have the same food options as those better off.
If your interest is good food, health/wellbeing, a better environment, equality, and social justice, this is the place for you.