Volunteers at community garden at Farley. Credit: Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire
As a part of the work of the Luton Food Poverty Alliance, Groundwork started developing the first Hub in 2017, in the Farley area of Luton, and has identified an additional three Hubs to be developed, all in high deprivation areas.
With a Veg Cities grant from Sustainable Food Cities and Luton Borough Councils Public health team, Groundwork is now working to widen the reach and directly engage the communities within a ½ mile radius of all the four Hubs, as well as undertaking activities in six priority areas of Luton which have the highest level of childhood obesity in the country.
The key aim of the Community Food Hubs is to improve access to and consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables by families and individuals living in high deprivation areas of Luton. This is closely aligned with Luton’s Food Plan theme of ‘Greening the borough and growing your own’.
By supporting collaborative food growing, local residents will acquire skills and knowledge to allow them over time to grow their own. In addition, Groundwork will deliver activities, including low cost nutritious meal planning and cooking on a budget, to support improved diets and nutrition. Food grown at the hubs is used to support the delivery of these programmes.
Fresh produce grown in the Hubs is redistributed within the local community and used to enrich local food bank and crisis and destitution services and within local holiday hunger services, where children from low income families will have the opportunity to grow, cook and eat fresh food as a part of structured holiday programmes.
Another key element of the Veg Cities Luton campaign will be schools engagement. In close collaboration with the Luton Schools Health Education Team, Groundwork will reach out to all schools in Luton to provide them with guidance for pupils and parents supporting them to adopt a ‘Fork to Fork’ approach both at school and at home.
Sustain are encouraging more areas to launch Veg Cities campaigns, and get local businesses and organisations making veg pledges. Veg Cities is the feature campaign of Sustainable Food Cities, and is run in partnership with Peas Please.