Case Study: East Sussex Food Partnerships – The Cost-of-Living Crisis

Sustainable Food Places is an alliance of three charities: Soil Association, Food Matters & Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food & Farming. 

The Sustainable Food Places network makes up over 80 food partnerships from across the UK. (View the network map here)

We are lucky here in Lewes District to be neighboured with Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, one of the first (started in 2003) and certainly one that leads the way in good-practice having gained their Gold Award accreditation in 2020. There is a corridor of food partnerships spreading across Sussex with work being done on connecting food systems all across the south coast. This Case Study by Sustainable Food Places brings together the work of the East Sussex Food Partnerships (Lewes District, Eastbourne, Hasting and Wealden & Rother). All four E.Sussex food partnerships received funding from East Sussex County Council and Public Health in 2020 to develop action plans for more food secure and resilient districts that champion food justice, equality & sustainability. 

The link to the full case study on the Sustainable Food Places website is here: East Sussex: County and District Level Coordination.

We have pulled out some of the key bits related to Lewes District Food Partnership’s work with local councils to help residents through the Cost-of-Living Crisis. 

Thank you to Sustainable Food Places for highlighting the good work going in East Sussex. All the below text has been taken from the article linked above.

Ruby Makepeace-Somerville Coordinator of Lewes District Food Partnership says, 

“We are fortunate to have a supportive local council and county council. Our local council has declared both a climate emergency and a Cost-of-Living-Crisis emergency but there’s a long way to go. 35 per cent of the UKs GHG emissions come from our food & drink sectors yet six out of ten councils are taking no significant or meaningful action and millions of people live in food poverty. We believe that collaboration between local food partnerships and the council can help us meaningfully address these and other key issues in our food system.”

Household Support Fund

ESCC have given discretionary grants to each of the Emergency Food Providers across the county to support running and purchasing costs. More broadly, the county council is working with the district and boroughs and VCSE partners to distribute the HSF, in line with the criteria set out by the Department of Work and Pensions.

As part of the HSF, the local food partnerships have been allocated funding to run three separate rounds of Small Grants Programmes to allocate funding to smaller projects tackling food poverty. Each round of grants is £20K in total per area. 

Lewes District Food Partnership has used the Small Grants Programme to fund recipe bag projects at food banks, community growing projects and community cafes, as well as funding a slow cooker donation scheme and the purchase of fruit and healthy snacks for young children at a nursery. They launched Round 3 of the Small Grants Programme in the first quarter of 2023. In addition, Lewes District Council have used HSF funding to distribute vouchers to residents to help towards the essential costs of food and energy bills. 

Working closely with the food partnership offers the district council the benefit of connection with frontline organisations and feedback on how well their support is working on the ground. In a previous round of HSF, Lewes District Council offered vouchers to help residents meet increased energy and food costs, via an online application. After a consultation among food bank users in the emergency food network, it became clear that digital exclusion is much higher than the average and many were cautious of applying online due to previous fraud scares. This feedback was promptly shared by the food partnership and since then, the local council has introduced a phone line.

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