Cost of living: Food insecurity and poverty

In this section you can find case studies and resources around programmes assisting households who are unable to afford sufficient food for a healthy diet.

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Barnsley Council: Addressing food insecurity with a new food hub

Barnsley Council have established Storehouse and Field, a community food hub which aims to provide access to high quality ingredients for people who may be experiencing moderate food insecurity.

Barnsley Council: Addressing food insecurity with a new food hub

Birmingham City Council: Food System Strategy

The Birmingham Food System Strategy is the city’s ambitious eight-year approach to creating a bold, sustainable, healthy and thriving food system.

Birmingham City Council: Food System Strategy 2022-2030

Bradford Council: Bradford District Credit Union

Bradford District Credit Union has received international acclaim for its partnership work in Bradford. Started by Bradford Council in 1993, the credit union has just over 9,000 members and is recognised as the first Community Development Credit Union in the UK.

The credit union has been working closely with Bradford Council to co-design a number of initiatives aimed to support residents with the rising cost of living.

Bradford Council: Bradford District Credit Union

Bradford Council: Buy in Bradford Food Voucher Scheme

The Buy in Bradford food voucher scheme was launched in response to the growing numbers of people in food poverty in the city. It established a network of retail outlets across the district where customers could collect food using the vouchers, as well as providing recipe ideas for healthy meals.

Bradford Council: Buy in Bradford Food Voucher Scheme

Brent Council: London’s Community Kitchen

In a bid to tackle child food hunger across north-west London, Brent Council has become the first London council to hand over its kitchen facilities for free to a food bank.

Brent Council: London’s Community Kitchen

Brighton and Hove City Council: Emergency Food Crisis Fund 

In response to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, Brighton & Hove City Council has announced a new fund to help community groups and organisations provide emergency food for people during winter 2022/23.

£30,000 has been made available for the Emergency Food Crisis Fund to support the most vulnerable people in Brighton & Hove who are most at risk of food insecurity.

Organisations who are struggling to fund their activities can apply for funds up to a maximum of £5,000, depending on the number of beneficiaries they support.

BHCC Emergency Food Crisis Fund (

Colchester Borough Council: Council pledges £25,000 to local food banks

Colchester Borough Council’s Cabinet has pledged to help local food agencies as they face drops in donations and rising demand, as they support the people of Colchester through the cost-of-living crisis. Support totalling £25,000 will be given to Colchester Foodbank (£10,000), BOAZ Outreach Project (£5,000), North Essex Support Team (£5,000) and Anti Loo Roll Brigade Colchester (£5,000).

Council gives funding support for food agencies | Colchester Borough Council

Coventry City Council: Mapping social supermarkets, food hubs and foodbanks

Coventry Council have responded to increasing food insecurity by mapping out local access to affordable and free food. All social supermarkets, food hubs, and foodbanks have been identified at a hyper-local level and made into a user-friendly interactive map, that is available on the council webpage and Google Maps.

Coventry City Council: Social Supermarkets, Food Hubs and Foodbanks map

East Suffolk Council: ‘Ease the Squeeze’

East Suffolk Council has worked with partners across sectors, through a series of workshops, to develop a wide reaching programme to support local residents with the rising cost of living.

East Suffolk Council: ‘Ease the Squeeze’

Eastbourne Borough Council: £250,000 cost of living emergency grant scheme 

Eastbourne Borough Council has announced a £250,000 ‘cost of living emergency grant’ scheme that will deliver an immediate payment of £20,000 to Eastbourne Foodbank, with one thousand local people benefitting. The emergency grant will enable Eastbourne Foodbank to directly support even more people who have fallen into food and fuel poverty.

Council announces £250,000 cost of living emergency grant scheme - (

Kirklees Council: The Bread and Butter Thing

To help lower-income residents with the rising cost of living and food inflation, Kirklees Council is working with charity ‘The Bread and Butter Thing’, a mobile food pantry that increases access to affordable, healthy, and nutritious food.

Kirklees Council: The Bread and Butter Thing

Leeds City Council: Healthy Holidays in Leeds

The Healthy Holidays scheme provides activities and food over the Easter, Summer and Christmas holidays to vulnerable children, primarily those eligible for Free School Meals.

Leeds City Council: Healthy Holidays in Leeds

Leeds City Council: Leeds Food Aid Network

The is a strong partnership approach to tackling food insecurity in Leeds, crucial to the city's response to the pandemic.

Leeds City Council: Leeds Food Aid Network

Lewes District Food Partnership: Partnering with Lewes District Council to develop a food security strategy

Lewes District Council have recently committed to developing a district wide food security strategy, in conjunction with their Lewes District Food Partnership and Emergency Food Network.

Lewes District Food Partnership: Partnering with Lewes District Council to develop a food security strategy

London Borough of Islington: Universal Free School Meals and school uniform grants

Islington Council provides universal free school meals to children at all maintained nursery and primary school pupils in the borough. If a child is an Islington resident and is eligible for free school meals, they're eligible for the uniform grant as well. The Council will pay £150 to help meet the cost of school uniforms when the child transfers to secondary school from year 6. The London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Newham also offer universal free school meals for children in nursery or primary school.

Free school meals and uniform grant | Islington Council

The London Borough of Lewisham: Working with partners to address food poverty

The London Borough of Lewisham is making tackling food poverty a priority in the recovery from the pandemic. The Council is already working with local groups to create social supermarkets from the food banks and networks that sprang up during the pandemic. It is now building on this work.

London Borough of Lewisham: Working with partners to address food poverty

London Borough of Merton: Community Fridge & Food Response Network

From October 2021 - May 2022, Merton’s Community Fridge Network saved over 27,200kg of food from going to waste, equivalent to 58,600 meals and 77,300kg of CO2, a good example of the positive impact a community can have when residents, businesses and organisations come together to take action on food insecurity and climate change.

London Borough of Merton: Community Fridge & Food Response Network

London Borough of Tower Hamlets: Food Hub & FOOD Store pantry programme

Tower Hamlets Council has established a Food Hub which empowers over 60 Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations in serving residents in the borough, and also supports the Council’s FOOD Store pantry programme – a dignity-focused membership model that tackles both food insecurity and root cause issues.

London Borough of Tower Hamlets: Food Hub & FOOD Store pantry programme

Nottinghamshire County Council: Improving access to affordable and nutritious food

Families with young children in Nottinghamshire are being supported with the cost of living through a network of FOOD (Food On Our Doorstep) Clubs. The clubs provide more affordable access to healthy ingredients as well as supporting families to cook and prepare family meals. 

Nottinghamshire County Council: Improving access to affordable and nutritious food

Oldham Council: Food and green spaces in Oldham

Oldham Council's vision is to be Greater Manchester’s "inclusive economy capital", by making the most of local assets and resources, including local purchasing, supporting local small and medium enterprises, and working with the community and voluntary sector. This ethos can be seen in their work on food and green spaces, crucial to the health and wellbeing of residents.

Oldham Council: Food and green spaces in Oldham

Royal Borough of Greenwich: Allocation of the Household Support Fund

Greenwich have awarded part of the Government’s Household Support Fund to Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency to fund the provision of food to Greenwich food pantries and the local food bank.

The funding is for the purchase of fresh fruit, vegetables, and ambient food for local food pantries and the Greenwich Foodbank. This will top up the donations and the surplus food that each organisation depend upon, ensuring a safe, steady supply of nutritious food for residents who are experiencing food insecurity.

There are four food pantries in Greenwich, three of these are jointly funded by Feeding Britain and Family Action and are based in Thamesmead, Charlton Athletic Football Club and Eltham Green Church. The fourth pantry has been established for over three years and is based in Charlton and delivered by the housing association Peabody.

The Food Pantry (sometimes called a Food Club) aims to provide good quality food at a low cost, while also reducing food waste. Members pay £3.50 to purchase £15 worth of food. However there has been challenges related to the supply and quality of food. Food Pantries and the Greenwich Foodbank have been experiencing food supply issues, this is also happening regionally across London, due to a lack of surplus food within the system and a lack of donations.

Greenwich Foodbank have recently had to purchase food to top up their stock levels. Supermarkets are experiencing supply issues therefore there is a lack of surplus food being donated to those organisations who rely upon surplus. Pantries rely upon surplus food but the food which is currently being received tends to be high in fat, salt and sugar, of poor quality and there is a lack of culturally acceptable food.

Buying a steady supply of fruit, vegetables and ambient food will ensure stock remains nutritious and of high quality. Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency already purchase food for the Foodbank and have well established links with local wholesalers that puts them in a unique position to deliver the provision at speed locally.

Royal Greenwich recognised for work tackling food poverty | Royal Borough of Greenwich

Sheffield City Council: Automatically enrolling children to Free School Meals   

In a bid to increase Free School Meal (FSM) take up in Sheffield, the Council decided to introduce automatic enrolment to the scheme. Using existing Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction data, the team follow an ‘opt out’ rule meaning that those not aware of their entitlement can still benefit from the offer. The council reports that they have significantly increased FSM uptake in the area, which in turn has created additional Pupil Premium Funding to help reduce the gap in attainment between children from higher and lower income households.

This move contributes towards the aims of the Sheffield Tackling Poverty Framework and to broader goals around improving public health and decreasing socioeconomic inequalities.

Sheffield City Council: Free School Meals

Southwark Council: Universal primary Free School Meals   

Southwark is one of only five English councils to fund a universal Free School Meal (FSM) offer for all of its primary schools.

The Council’s Free Healthy School Meals (FHSM) programme has been a universal offer and council commitment since September 2013 for all primary school students in Key Stage 2, supplementing the central government funded, means-tested Free School Meals (FSM) and Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM).

Southwark Council: Universal primary Free School Meals


Wiltshire Council: Holiday activity and food programme

Wiltshire Council are delivering the Department of Education’s Holiday Activity and Food programme, which is branded locally as FUEL (Food, Unity, Energy, Laughter).

FUEL is a free holiday activity and food project that offers participants the opportunity to take part in a range of fun activities during the Easter, summer and Christmas school holiday periods. To be eligible to attend the programme children must receive benefits related free school meals, be of school age and either be a resident of Wiltshire or attend a school in the county.

Participants will be able to enjoy a variety of high quality activities when attending the a FUEL camp, including a range of enriching activities such as arts, football, dance, drumming workshops, team games and fun healthy eating workshops. All participants will also receive a nutritious meal on each day they attend the programme.

FUEL programme - Wiltshire Council