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  • Writer's pictureKemiALondoner

Field Trip to Liverpool

Updated: Feb 21, 2020

Last week I took my team on a learning trip Liverpool to visit 3 projects already delivering alternative food provision projects, kindly funded by Food Power.

Here we are at 9am on the train. Very shortly afterwards we all fell asleep. It was just as well, because little did we know, we had a packed day ahead and would only just make the train home.

First stop the Granby 'Apple" bus.

We met up with our local guide and woman ‘who-does-everything-to-do-with-food’, Lucy Antal. She drove us to Granby Children's centre where a converted school bus pops up twice a week for ease of use for families who go to the centre. With fresh fruit and veg on board, the bus provides culturally appropriate food, which is bought at market and priced by staff each morning. They accept cash, card and Healthy Start vouchers to be as open to everyone, even local people can buy food. They are sponsored and they also have fruit and veg stalls in the local hospitals to supplement their income. When the food is gone it's gone, but it stops in plenty of other spots around the city so that customers can get their shopping on a different day if they miss out. While we were there, several families, mainly mothers popped on board and chose groceries with their kids. The staff knew all the parents by name. The weather was cold, but the camaraderie was very warm.

Lucy drove us to the train station, where we promptly got on the wrong train and got lost as we went under the Wirral to Birkenhead, which is not Liverpool, as we were reminded many times. We were found by Andrew Forsey (Feeding Britain), and escorted to Number 7 Cafe. The cafe is based in the middle of the Pyramids shopping centre. It operates as a citizens supermarket and café. Anyone can use the café, but you can only buy food from the market if you are a member. The market utilises a membership model and has a strict income based means tested criteria for joining, which also gives you 50% off the cafe. Andy, the shop manager gave us a detailed explanation of how the cafe fits in with and supports the local food system. They have multiple food sources and it involves quite a bit of negotiation and food transportation, sometimes from city to city, but they have plenty of food, mainly store cupboard items, on constant rotation.

We bumped into Frank Field and took the obligatory selfie, then headed off back to Liverpool to meet up with Squash Nutrition.

Becky and Clare (Squash Nutrition) visited Be Enriched in 2017, when they came to London on a fact finding trip. Since that date they have fundraised for a building, which I would call Food Hub. They grow, cook, teach and sell on their site. The building is a architect’s low energy dream. Recycled and reused materials throughout, passive and heat storing materials used while creating a clean and welcoming environment throughout. Becky took us on a lovely tour of the grounds and told us how they have maned to be plastic free, sugar free and run a vegan café which everyone feel welcome in. They sell many foods by the scoop encouraging people to bring in their own vessels.  Alongside this they run food business training  for women, especially those from minority ethnic backgrounds, assisting them to start businesses, run cooking classes and some have become employed by Squash itself. The fruit and veg come from the Squash Nutrition farm, where volunteers and local people can also get involved. Becky started telling us about the future plans which will enable them to be even more sustainable and then we realised we had to catch our train

What did we learn - There is no blueprint for alternative food provisions; adapt as time goes on to the needs of the community; have some core principles and stick to them;  Look for other avenues to supplement your income; persevere and you will get there.

See below for a short video of the experience

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