Case Study: South Lanarkshire Council

In 2012 South Lanarkshire Council’s Financial Inclusion Network established a food poverty sub-group, recognising that the UK Government’s Welfare Reform programme  was generating an increasing demand for emergency food aid, and in turn that there was a need for a local partnership approach to tackling food poverty. Members of the group include local food banks, other providers of food related support, local Citizens Advice Bureaux, Council departments including Social Work (Money Matters), Housing and Regeneration and NHS Lanarkshire. In 2013 the group secured external funding to employ two new development workers to support improved networking across emergency food aid providers, including referral pathways, and to help develop better signposting to additional supports. 

The development workers have also worked with local communities to establish additional provision including breakfast clubs and food coops across South Lanarkshire, helping supply fresh and affordable produce to local people. Writing about the food poverty project, development worker Jim Lees commented:

“Food banks are like the emergency services dealing with an acute problem.  Food co-ops can provide the central element in a strategy to eliminate food poverty from our society and greatly reduce the need for emergency intervention.  A number of agencies are involved in our project such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux and the local authority.  We are developing a strong relationship with food banks that are being given vouchers, funded by our project, which allow food bank users to access food co-ops free of charge.  This has the dual benefit of easing food bank users away from food banks and pointing them in the direction of accessible and affordable sources of food in their communities.”

Community-based food coops can have an important role to play within a partnership approach such as this one which involves a wide range of agencies. Such models can help reduce some of the barriers which people in food poverty face to accessing affordable, nutritious food.

For lots of information on setting up a food coop, see: