Late 2020 Community Roots began to support a Freezer of Love (a Long Table initiative to support people during the pandemic) and a food pantry at the Arkell Centre in Forest Green, Stroud. There were food support initiatives all over Stroud and all over Gloucestershire and we began looking at how these initiatives might be networked together.
Community Roots belong to a nationwide community organising network and around this time they held some nationwide discussions about the impact of food poverty on communities, one of these discussions was attended by Andrew Forsey, CEO of Feeding Britain and after the discussion we reached out to Andrew and to Will Mansell (Grace Network/The Long Table) and began to discuss the potential of creating a Feeding Gloucestershire Network.
In July 2021 we held our first Feeding Gloucestershire meeting, this event, hosted by Bishop Rachel of Gloucester, brought together around 20 organisations from across the county, including community hubs, waste food projects, food banks and local authorities. The idea being to bring together a network of organisations across the county who are supporting communities with food. To explore how we can support each other and the work we are doing.
We also discovered another initiative the Gloucestershire Good Food Revolution (Boom Circle/Gloucestershire Food and Farming Partnership) was also looking at community food work and we began to discuss how we might work together. Feeding Gloucestershire and the Gloucestershire Food and Farming Partnership are currently developing a relationship, the aim being that Feeding Gloucestershire will support the community work undertaken by the GFFP.
After a second successful meeting a call was made for a steering group to begin to bring the organisations together into a network, the steering group has been working to develop the vision, mission, aims and objectives of Feeding Gloucestershire with the intention of launching Feeding Gloucestershire in September 2022.
Since the start of this initiative one of our community organisers has been working to support Feeding Gloucestershire as the interim Network Coordinator and we are pleased to have been the catalyst organisation