Barry’s team won the ‘Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero hunger’ award at this year’s King’s Civic Challenge Grand Final. This was one of four awards which recognised projects aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were made possible through King’s innovative contract with furniture supplier SouthernsBroadstock. To support the Borough Food Collective in overcoming food insecurity and encouraging healthier habits, the team proposed a free multimedia cookbook, cooking tutorials and recipe kits to encourage service users and volunteers to celebrate their stories around food.
In this feature, Barry shares some insights from his voluntary experience with the Borough Food Cooperative.
Supporting local communities with the Borough Food Cooperative
As the COVID-19 pandemic started and individuals lost their jobs, the need for food security in south London increased. In Southwark it was found that one in five parents were skipping meals to provide food for their children. The Borough Food Cooperative opened in October 2020 and has operated throughout the pandemic to provide essential supplies to local households to help tackle food insecurity and encourage healthy eating.
With help from organisations like FareShare, the Borough Food Cooperative (BFC) acts as a subsidised supermarket, where members can stop in and pick up £20 to £25 worth of groceries for £4.50.
Membership is flexible so members only pay when they come. This could be three times a week, once a month or anything in between. Members can choose from an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables, including tenderstem broccoli, green and red mangos, plantain, oranges, satsumas, conference pears, leeks and heritage carrots. The BFC stocks dry store goods too, such as pasta, eggs, tinned tomatoes, tinned vegetables, baked beans, lentils, rice, bread, biscuits, crisps, cereal and chocolate, and offers a range of chilled goods, like milk, butter, cream, yoghurt, cheese, sausages and sometimes even steaks. Delicious meals made in the kitchen are also up for grabs!
Joining the King’s Civic Challenge
The King’s Civic Challenge asked for student and staff volunteers. I signed up and joined the Borough Food Cooperative team. I was the only staff member in our team, along with an alumnus (Lindsey), BFC member (Adam) and student members (Catherine, Hannah, and Aditya).
The Civic Challenge provided excellent talks and seminars on business and project management as well as training on how to deliver a ‘dragon’s den’ pitch. These provided invaluable learning opportunities and perspectives on disciplines other than my own. I am sure everyone involved benefited from increasing their transferable skills, which will particularly assist our students in later life.
When working with BFC, our Civic Challenge team wanted to engage the community more, increase the appropriate target group members and encourage healthy eating. One of the ways we achieved this was by getting users to share recipes online and showing how nutritious meals could be prepared easily and quickly.