HEALTHY EATING PROJECT

 An additional element in the Devon Pathways Project is aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle amongst service users through the inclusion of fresh and frozen meat and dairy products.  Whilst the majority of people first come into contact with food banks for emergency support in the form of ambient food parcels, ongoing support over a period of weeks – if not months – is increasingly common, particularly as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic take hold.  The healthy eating project will include additional food box provision looking very much like a ‘meal kit’ food box with pre-portioned ingredients along with a recipe card and links to a short cookery demo. To start with there will be two demos a week. Service users will also be able to sign up for a real-time cooking skills class led by Stella West-Harling (who will be donating her time).  Chilled and frozen meat and dairy products will be distributed directly to the pilot projects by refrigerated vans on designated days.  These packs will be individually portioned and ready to go out in the weekly ‘meal kit’ food boxes.  We are already in discussion with Public Health Devon, South West Association for Nutrition, and the Diocese of Exeter to support foodbanks and food organisations across Devon in developing recipes and meal kits.  We are working collaboratively with a group of interested food organisations (Family Fun Cooking Club, Catch 77, One Small Step, Project Food, DYS Space and Young Devon) to explore creating new recipes for food boxes and are currently providing a volunteer opportunity for a registered dietician to help develop this project.  We will shortly be expanding this project to take up to three dieticians over the next 12 months.

 

In addition, Dartmoor Community Kitchen Hub will be delivering holiday club provision in Sherford as part of the HAF (Holiday Activities Programme).  We will be providing outdoor forest school sessions over the Easter holidays with a focus on healthy eating, building resilience and promoting positive mental health for children who are in receipt of Free School Meals.  A high proportion of the places will be taken by SEND children and those who have parents in receipt of regular food provision distributed by Sherford Mutual Aid.  Hot meals will b e provided by Dartmoor Community Kitchen Hub and delivered to site. Pathways partner organisations will be invited to attend the sessions to observe and receive training on delivering similar sessions during the summer holidays (supported by the pathways project worker).  It is planned that these sessions will become family focused activities once COVID restrictions are lifted.

 

Training and Support Through linking in with local CVS services, we will be able to offer a comprehensive support package as well as a weekly (virtual) support group for our Pathways support workers.  In addition, we have a COVID-safe training room available once restrictions are eased for bimonthly training and support sessions.  Depending on need, training and support may include:

  • Choosing a Legal Structure
  • Registering as a Food Premises
  • Creating Policies and Procedures
  • Risk Assessments
  • Health and Safety
  • Safeguarding
  • Fire Risk Assessments
  • Data Protection
  • Volunteer Induction
  • Manual Handling
  • Food Safety Management System
  • Fundraising, Social Media & Websites

Advice Worker Training
The project manager at Dartmoor Community Kitchen Food Bank has been providing support and advice to service users in Bovey Tracey over the past six months. Clients include:

  • Families who have recently been made redundant and claiming Universal Credit
  • Lone Parents experiencing benefit delays
  • Newly housed homeless individuals and families
  • Individuals with addiction issues
  • Individuals experiencing mental health issues
  • Families receiving Early Help
  • Families with SEND children
  • Families with children who have issues around food (compulsive eating & food avoidance)
  • Individuals fostering grandchildren
  • Families on low incomes experiencing significant income reduction due to the pandemic (often furloughed)
  • Lone parents who have experienced domestic abuse and have been rehoused
  • Families experiencing issues with debt

In every instance, without exception, the provision of an experienced advice has made a positive impact on the quality of life for food bank clients.  Despite the pandemic, regular telephone calls combined with doorstep visits has fostered a supportive relationship built on trust.  The project worker has partnered with local GP surgeries to provide ongoing support to those who are particularly vulnerable, for example pregnant women and families needing Early Help support.  In rural areas, without easy access to services, this support has proved invaluable.  In addition, the anxiety caused by delays in getting appointments and follow-up help has been alleviated by the ability to talk through issues and receive support within 24 hours of contact being made by clients.   

Advice Work includes: Universal Credit and benefit issues

  • Supporting families made redundant following the pandemic as they move onto Universal Credit and supporting families as they move back into work (often returning several times over several months as they experience job insecurity and further redundancies).
  • Supporting those going though benefit appeals process right though to the conclusion of a case (often taking months).

Relationship and family issues

  • Helping those who have experienced domestic abuse to access support services.
  • Supporting parents with SEND children during the pandemic
  • Providing information and signposting (including digital and telephone counselling services)

Debt advice (general) and Budgeting advice

  • Long term food box users supported in moving from receiving food bank parcels onto a food box scheme which offers low-cost surplus food delivered on a weekly basis.
  • Supporting clients to draw up a budget based on their income and expenditure.

Housing and homelessness

  • Securing housing tenancies for those with debt issues and threatened with eviction through working closely with local Housing Associations.
  • Supporting clients to be able to cook healthy meals and wash clothes by providing cookers, fridges, freezers, slow cookers, microwaves and washing machines.

Health and wellbeing

  • Improved health and wellbeing of vulnerable individuals through the delivery of targeted food support and individualised action plans to support positive mental health.
  • Improved health for families by the weekly provision of fresh, seasonal meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables and the inclusion of recipes cards in with deliveries.
  • Supporting families new to the area to access healthcare services.

Following on from the success of this initial project, the ‘Feeding Devon’ Pathways Project will provide support and mentoring to pilot project staff with the intention of training up advice workers within each project over the course of the pilot programme through creating a bank of experience and expertise.  Depending on existing experience, projects may be able to provide this support independently within six months.  This will be achieved by:

  1. The provision of an advice worker for ‘Feeding Devon’ to conduct weekly face-to-face sessions with clients. Sessions will be observed by project staff to provide real-time modelled interactions.
  1. Mentoring and training provision for current staff and volunteers across 5 key areas
  • Universal Credit and benefit issues (Training delivered via CPAG £250 per project)
  • Relationship and family issues (Training delivered via the Freedom Programme, Women’s Aid, NSPCC. Level 3 safeguarding training will be provided by DCC £500 per project)
  • Debt advice and Budgeting advice (Training delivered via CMA £300 per project)
  • Housing and homelessness (Training delivered via NHAS & Shelter £250 per project)
  • Health and wellbeing (Training delivered via PHE & MHFA £125 per project)

3.  The opportunity to develop a programme of health and wellbeing support for families though the provision of holiday activity sessions and activity packs in collaboration with local schools and childcare holiday providers.  The Holiday Activities and Food programme is currently being rolled out across all local authority areas, including Devon, and the focus will be on providing rewarding and engaging activities alongside healthy meal provision.

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.