Who can join IFAN?
The Independent Food Aid Network is open to any independent food aid providers with concerns about the institutionalisation of charitable food aid provisioning in the UK and want to see radical systemic change so that the number of people needing food aid is dramatically reduced.
Participation in IFAN is open to all independent food aid providers who share its vision, values and principles, but on the understanding that participation in the network by projects/organisations which are members of franchises, 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 values and principles.
Who is behind the development of IFAN?
The development of IFAN is currently coordinated by Sabine Goodwin who is supported by Ashleigh Comber, Katy Gordon, Steph Ellis and IFAN's Trustees:
Professor Jon May – Queen Mary University
Madeleine Power - University of York (Co-Chair)
Robin Burgess - Northampton Hope Centre (Treasurer)
Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite - University of Birmingham
Deidre Woods - Granville Community Kitchen (Co-Chair)
Kemi Akinola - Be Enriched and Brixton People's Kitchen
Is there a need for our network?
IFAN consulted with many food aid providers in the lead up to the launch of the network, including holding an event for founding members 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 will eradicate the need for food aid in the first place. IFAN aims to be that platform.
Finally, the UK Food Poverty Alliance had recently formed in 2016 and we felt that it was vital that the voice of independent food aid providers of all varieties should be heard alongside other leading campaigners and charities in the field.
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.
How is IFAN different from the Trussell Trust foodbank network?
We recognise that many food banks have chosen not to join the Trussell Trust network for a variety of reasons but are keen to be represented at a national level. There is also a large number 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 the Trussell Trust, has worked with the network on research into food bank volunteer hours and we collaborate on campaigning work within the End Hunger UK coalition.
What is IFAN’s relationship to the UK Food Poverty Alliance and End Hunger UK?
IFAN is a member of the UK Food Poverty Alliance and will continue to support its work where aims and values are consistent with those of IFAN and its members. IFAN is also an active member of the UK Food Poverty Alliance's campaigning arm End Hunger UK, our coordinator Sabine Goodwin has worked on campaigns both on food insecurity and social security issues and is a member of the Partners' Board for the next 3-year phase of the campaign beginning in January 2019.
How is IFAN funded?
So far, IFAN has been run on a voluntary basis. We are currently seeking funding for our day-to-day work.
We are currently working with A Menu for Change to collate independent food parcel distribution data across Scotland. This project is funded by A Menu for Change.
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