IFAN is a network of independent, grassroots food aid providers working together to ensure food security for all. There are hundreds of food aid providers across the UK that have no national representation and we believe that by bringing them together we can can create a powerful voice for change.
A group of people involved in local food aid provision have come together following an event held in Manchester in March 2016. This event brought together 40 food aid providers to find out what they wanted from a new UK network.
The event was very successful and led to the inaugural steering group meeting of IFAN in May 2016. This group is made up of people directly involved in food aid at a local level, none of whom represent any national organisations.
After drafting a set of aims for the network, a survey was sent to food aid providers to get their views, enabling us to launch the network with a vision, aims, values and principles that we know truly represents those of our members.
We are working with our 50 Founder Members with a full launch planned for Spring 2017. Register your interest in joining here.
Any questions? Read our FAQs below or contact us directly.
IFAN envisions a UK where everyone can eat good food and food aid is no longer necessary.
We will do this by:
While working to achieve our objectives we will:
The following principles are at the foundation of everything we do:
Practical support We will support the sharing of resources between members as well as sharing helpful resources from outside the network. Plans also include arranging visits to projects of interest. We’ll also make it easy for you to talk to other members.
Have your say IFAN is a member of the UK Food Poverty Alliance. As the only member of the alliance that represents independent food aid providers we will use our involvement to speak on your behalf.
Steer IFAN We will be around for as long as we’re needed. As a grassroots network we want to be shaped by our members. Our steering group is made up of people who coordinate projects just like yours and, as an IFAN member, we pledge to consult you every step of the way
Come together You will have access to regular events so that you can share ideas, learn from others and hear from interesting speakers
Who can join IFAN?
IFAN is open to food aid providers that aren't happy about the institutionalisation of food aid in the UK and want to see wider systemic change so food aid is no longer required. Any food aid provider that agrees and wants to add to the voice for national change that sees the end to food aid, is welcome to join.
Participation in IFAN is open to all food aid providers who share its Objects and Values in Practice, but on the understanding that participation in the network by projects/organisations which are members or franchisees of, or affiliated to, other organisations is subject to these organisations/projects acting as individual entities rather than as representatives of their ‘parent’ organisation. Full membership (including voting rights) of IFAN is restricted to food aid providers that are entirely independent and that agree to abide by its shared Objects and Values in Practice.
What does being a Founder Member mean?
To help with the development of IFAN and to make sure we get it right, we invited food aid providers to become Founder Members in November 2016. We will consult Founder Members as the network is further developed and seek their feedback on our plans. This will not only help us with our full launch in 2017 but also support our funding efforts. Most importantly, we can make sure we get things right first time!
Who is behind the development of IFAN?
The development of IFAN is co-ordinated by founder Seb Mayfield and Steph Ellis, who are supported by IFAN's Trustees:
Jon May – Bow Food Bank (Chair)
Liev Cherry – Bow Food Bank
Chris Sunderland – Real Economy Food Co-op (Treasurer)
Nadine Daniel – Hope+ Food Bank (Secretary)
Fiona Carr – Your Local Pantry, Stockport Homes
Mohammed Mamdani - Sufra NW London
Is there a need for a new network?
IFAN has consulted with many food aid providers in the lead up to the launch of the network, including holding an event in Manchester in March 2016 and sending out an online survey in May 2016. Ninety-two percent of the food aid providers surveyed told us that they wanted a network for the following reasons:
Work to create a society where there is food security for all – 97.8%
Provide mutual support, and share resources, amongst food aid providers – 95.7%
Share best practice – 95.7%
Improve provision for, and access to, people in need of food aid – 93%
Campaign for change – 91.3%
Provide a forum and a collective voice for independent, grass roots food aid providers – 91.1%
Work with and promote the voices of people in need – 88.6%
Promote critical open-access research – 88.4%
One of the key reasons for wanting to launch IFAN was the concern that food aid is becoming increasingly institutionalised in the UK, with food banks and other food aid providers being relied upon to feed people. We recognise that many people who work hard to provide food aid are far from happy with this situation and are keen to have a platform to be able to voice these concerns and call for wider systemic change that eradicate the need for food aid. IFAN aims to be that platform.
Finally, the UK Food Poverty Alliance has recently formed and IFAN's organisers felt that it was vital that the voice of independent food aid providers of all varieties should be heard at the top table.
Is food security for all a realistic aim?
The current situation needs to improve in a number of ways if we are ever going to see food security for all. We recognise that this is an aspirational goal rather than something that will happen any time soon. However, we believe that it’s important to send a bold message about the direction of travel we want to head in – if we don’t believe it can happen then it definitely won’t.
Why refer to the network as ‘independent’?
The steering group chose to include the word ‘independent’ to reflect the fact that first and foremost we are a membership organisation for local food aid groups who are independent of any national organisation.
By referring to the network as being ‘independent’ we are also demonstrating that we are prepared to take our own position on issues as and when necessary, in consultation with our members.
Is IFAN in competition with the Trussell Trust foodbank network?
IFAN is not trying to compete with any other national organisations, let alone the Trussell Trust. We recognise that many food banks have chosen to not join the Trussell Trust network for a variety of reasons but are keen to be represented at a national level. There are also lots of food aid providers that are not food banks, and therefore don’t fit into the Trussell Trust model, that would like to be part of a national network.
IFAN is in regular contact with Trussell Trust and looks forward to the possibility of working together in the future, as and where desirable.
What is IFAN’s relationship to the UK Food Poverty Alliance?
IFAN is a member of the alliance and will continue to support its work where the aims and values are consistent with those of IFAN and it’s members.
How is IFAN funded?
IFAN currently receives no funding and is reliant on voluntary contributions from the coordinators and steering group. We have plans to secure funding in the next few months in order to develop the network as we would like to. However, we are committed to remaining lean and not growing our operations too big, as this is in opposition to our aim of seeing the end to food aid rather than supporting the institutionalisation of it.
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