The ‘Feeding Devon’ Partnership is a membership organisation which includes charities, social enterprises, health providers, religious organisations, housing associations, and community projects. The pilot sits within the ‘Feeding Britain’ organisation which commissioned – in partnership with the Community Foundation and the Esme Fairbank Trust – the initial ‘Pathways from Poverty Project’ undertaken in 2019/20.  Our work includes:

  • Sourcing funding to sustain ongoing project work
  • Developing resilient food distribution networks
  • Working closely with pilot food projects to offer tailored mentoring and guidance.
  • Mapping the existing food support network within the county.

What’s next

Over the coming year, Feeding Devon plans to grow our network of support from the original single start-up project at Bovey Tracey to incorporate a minimum of a further four pilot ‘Pathways’ food projects. We have identified a further three partners already.  These are:

Sherford, near Plymouth; a new-build town on the edge of the South Hams currently without shops or GP surgery, which has a high ratio of shared ownership properties occupied by young families.  Many residents are suffering from the impact of the pandemic with the combination of significantly reduced household income and high housing costs.  The focus of this project is to support those who are experiencing food insecurity through a range of community-led initiatives, including a free pantry and food redistribution initiatives.

Princetown; an isolated rural community in the middle of Dartmoor, on the high moor, with poor access to buses, and a high number of people transferred from neighbouring Plymouth Housing Associations leading to many residents feeling isolated and disenfranchised.  Unemployment is high, transport links are unreliable and infrequent and there has been a loss of key community members over recent years.  This is a new project which has come on board within the past two weeks.  The focus of this pilot is supporting the development of a new food bank within the community, providing mentoring and practical advice and resources as they secure premises and develop relationships with stakeholders.

Torquay, an urban seaside town with a significant homelessness issue.  Service users include a higher-than-average ratio of refugees, those with drug/alcohol issues, mental health issues, ex-offenders, and those experiencing – or who have experienced – domestic abuse. We will be working with the food coordinator and food bank manager to develop the Pathways model of early intervention for those in crisis.

In addition, we are in discussion with Westbank Community Larder in Exminster, Ashburton Lockdown Larder and Community Fridge, and Buckfastleigh Foodbank.  We aim to begin supporting these organisations within the next three months.

How we will work:

Kier Group (A UK construction, services & property group) have offered to donate large portacabin (possibly two) and we have a piece of land to operate from. This will be used as the distribution depot for the ‘Pathways’ food banks.  We already support South Devon Food Alliance members by distributing food to members on a regular basis.  Recently being able to distribute frozen meat products along with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as hygiene packs. We will build on this initial phase by providing storage for ambient food for use by members as well as acting as a central point for the distribution of seasonal fruit and vegetables.  All members will have access to the storage unit by use of key codes, thus enabling the safe storage and collection of food supplies.  In addition, we will develop the volunteer driver network across the area by creating a database of people who are willing to combine their daily commute with moving food supplies, thus reducing fuel costs and two-way journeys to collect supplies.

What we’ve achieved so far:

Actively supporting food banks and meal providers with the Teignbridge and South Hams area throughout the Covid -19 crisis by:

  • Supporting the network during the roll out of Universal Credit.
  • Providing emergency food support to foodbanks that have run short of food, particularly at the end of the first lockdown period when food banks experienced shortages.
  • Delivering food support to food banks during inclement weather to enable them to continue to provide emergency food supplies to those in need.
  • Supporting families in newly emerging communities currently without food support services.
  • Sourcing funding for a community co-ordinator.
  • Providing an advice worker to support service users within the starter hub at Bovey Tracey.
  • Training volunteers at the Bovey Tracey hub.
  • Creating volunteer packs for foodbanks, including key policies and procedures for food organisations.
  • Liasing with Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Torbay Council to begin to bring together food organisations across the county.
  • Creating recipe cards for food bank users and making these available to other organisations to access.