• About Us

    A group of 40 representatives of independent, grassroots food aid providers came together to form the network in May 2016 at an event held in Manchester. There are many hundreds of independent food aid providers including food banks across the UK which, until 2016, have had no national representation.

    We believe that by bringing them together we are in process of creating a powerful voice for change.

    Our vision is of a country that doesn’t need emergency food aid and

    in which good food is accessible to all.

     

    This strategy sets out how IFAN seeks to realise this vision and achieve its aims whilst upholding the core principles first outlined when founded in 2016.

     

    IFAN’s vision is of a UK where everyone can eat good food and food aid is no longer necessary.

     

    To fulfil this vision, IFAN has three main aims:

    • to connect members to each other to share best practice and ideas
    • to connect members, researchers, journalists and members of the public to provide a variety of learning opportunities, support current research, shape future research and strengthen advocacy efforts
    • to call for the structural changes needed for food aid to be reduced and eliminated in the long-term. 

    Underpinning these aims, IFAN is driven by two key principles:

    • A recognition that food poverty, or food insecurity, is the result of a complex set of structural issues relating but not restricted to problems of insecure, inadequate and expensive housing, insecure and low paid employment, insufficient social welfare provision, poor health, and environmentally unsustainable and socially unjust food production and distribution system.
    • A recognition of the importance of good food and wellbeing and that growing food, taking food beyond the cash economy and connecting with nature contributes to individual and community health and provides space for wider civic engagement.

    As both IFAN and the wider emergency food aid sector has continued to grow, for the sake of clarity of our working principles, we have added a 3rd principle:

    • A recognition that although seeking to bring an end to food insecurity in the long term, IFAN recognise that there remains a need for emergency charitable food aid in the short term. IFAN exists partly to help support and develop the most effective and least stigmatising forms of emergency food aid provision while it is needed, but in ways that do not further embed or institutionalise what should be a short-term solution. 

    To achieve this vision and meet these aims, IFAN organises its activities in three broad areas:

    The idea for the Independent Food Aid Network was developed by Seb Mayfield in collaboration with Steph Ellis, Jon May and

    Chris Sunderland following Seb's visit to Canada where food banks have existed for decades. Seb saw the potential for an alternative approach to food poverty as practised in Canada through Community Food Centres, published a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust report on the subject and we are grateful to him for his hard work and commitment to getting IFAN off the ground.

     

    We are very grateful to Chris Sunderland for his contribution in time and wisdom as founder and trustee from 2016 to 2019, to Steph Ellis for her contribution as founder, volunteer and charity secretary from 2016 to 2019 and to Robin Burgess who was trustee then treasurer from 2018 to 2019.

     

    We are also thankful for the invaluable support of volunteers Ren Piercy, Lucy Cullen, Sharon Ball and Dave Beck during 2018.

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