Which organisations 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 running of IFAN?
IFAN is coordinated by Sabine Goodwin who is supported by Maria Marshall, Ashleigh Comber and Katy Gordon, Dr Chelsea Marshall in relation IFAN's work in Scotland and IFAN's Trustees:
Deidre Woods - Granville Community Kitchen (Co-Chair)
Dr Madeleine Power - University of York (Co-Chair)
Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite - University of Birmingham
Kemi Akinola - Be Enriched and Brixton People's Kitchen
Rajesh Makwana - SUFRA
Felicia Boshorin - Central Southwark Community Hub
Professor Jon May – Queen Mary University London
How was the network initiated?
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 and has worked jointly with the network on various projects over a number of years.