Agenda item

Food Poverty Strategy


That the Committee continue to support the ongoing work to address food poverty and food insecurity in Flintshire.


The Benefits Manager introduced the Food Poverty Strategy report which outlined the strategic priority of working towards addressing food poverty.


            The draft Strategy, as shown in Appendix 1 of the report, had recently been presented and adopted by the Public Services Board (PSB) and would be published shortly.  Flintshire’s Public Service Board supported the development of partnership initiatives aimed at the reduction of poverty within the County and recently endorsed the development and implementation of a Community Benefit Strategy which covered a range of strategic priorities, as detailed within the report.


            As outlined within the report, there was clearly a high degree of agreement between the challenges and objectives identified by the multi-agency board and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), as well as the positive work currently undertaken by individual organisations in the community, e.g. food banks.  Given the level of work currently on going within the County and the strategic and aspirational symmetry between the Flintshire’s multi-agency PSB and BCUHB, there was a need to explore and agree collective next steps and the contributions partners would make in achieving the goals associated with the reduction of food poverty.


            The Benefits Manager outlined a number of key deliverables for year one, as set out within the report.  One of the key deliverables was the introduction of the Holiday Hunger Programme which would be rolled out over the school summer holidays.  Details of the Programme had been provided by Mr. Robbie Davison to the Committee prior to the start of the meeting.   


            In conclusion, the Benefits Manager reported that Flintshire had taken the lead in developing an alliance for North Wales to help better understand the regional issues around food poverty and food insecurity.  It was hoped that engagement across the region in tackling these issues through sharing best practice; learning from experience and working cross sector would be considered during a food poverty conference to be held in North Wales in September, 2018.


            The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Members for Housing thanked the Benefits Manager for the report but outlined his sadness at the need for such a report and the number of families across Flintshire who were in food poverty.  He commented on the launch of the Holiday Hunger Programme which would be held on 19th July and hoped that the initiatives set out within the report would end food poverty, not just for children, but for unemployed people and pensioners in the future.


            The Cabinet Members for Corporate Management said that as a Board Member for NEWydd who provided healthy school meals during term time he was pleased to see a scheme being provided during the school summer holidays for children to access healthy hot meals.  The Cabinet Member for Social Services congratulated the Benefits Manager and her team and was pleased to see the joint working with the multi-agency PSB and BCUHB.  She referred to the requirements which had been placed on Local Authorities by the Children’s Commissioner to tackle child poverty and was pleased that the Council’s initiatives were meetings those requirements and those within the Older People’s Strategy also.            


            Councillor Rosetta Dolphin questioned the value for money given the cost of some of the meals and said that families and pensioners may be reluctant to pay for the cost of the meals.  She also asked if furniture and equipment were being provided at the Community Food Hubs.  The Benefits Manager explained that she had not seen the meals in question but said that as the Council had not introduced such a scheme previously, feedback on pricing would be essential for future schemes.  Pricing had been set in comparison with the largest similar food supplier and whilst the prices were comparable, the meals provided through the Council did not include additives or sugar and are not frozen but remain fresh in the fridge for 4-7 days.  Also rather than the food being delivered to homes, the principle behind the scheme was to bring communities together.  She also advised that opportunities were being looked into to access equipment via community funds.


            Councillor Paul Shotton welcomed the report, in particular the collaborative work which had been carried out but raised concerns around reports that supplies at food banks were running low due to increased demand.  He commented on a scheme which had been introduced in Yorkshire where food nearing its expiry date was distributed to those in need and also the gardens at Pen Y Llan, Connah’s Quay where residents were growing their own vegetables.                  


            Councillor Ron Davies commented on a similar provision for hot meals provided at Riverside Church, Shotton and asked if they could be contacted to expand their current scheme.  The Benefits Manager advised that focus was currently on raising the profile of the Community Food Hubs and Holiday Hunger Programme but it was hoped that organisations across Flintshire would contact the Council to allow the schemes to link and grow in the future.  She said that she was confident that there were many excellent schemes already in place across Flintshire, especially within the third sector.       


            Councillor George Hardcastle concurred with previous comments made and thanked the Benefits Manager for a positive report.  He asked whether the number of meals required each day had been estimated.  The Benefits Manager explained that the Programme planned to deliver 800 hot meals per day over 20 play scheme sites over the school summer holiday period.  The figures had been based on last year’s play scheme attendance figures but a 30% increase had been factored in to ensure all children attended had access to a hot meal.     


            In response to a question from Councillor Sian Braun, the Benefits Manager confirmed that the Holiday Hunger Programme would be available to play scheme aged children but any feedback received from the Programme would be taken into consideration for next year’s provision.   


            Councillor Mike Reece suggested a notice be placed in Member’s Services asking Members for donations towards the Holiday Hunger Programme.  This suggestion was supported by the Committee.




That the Committee continue to support the ongoing work to address food poverty and food insecurity in Flintshire.

Supporting documents: