Tackling Food Poverty

Tracy Moynihan

Health Promotion Dietitian, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

Cropped Toolkit 2In 2008 NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s Dietetic Team worked in partnership with Community Food and Health Scotland to produce the CAN (Cheap and Nutritious) Food and Health Toolkit. It was hoped that the toolkit would be used by those teaching cooking skills to low-income groups, and that as a result it would support local people to eat well on a limited budget. This goal has been achieved and the impact of the toolkit has surpassed all expectations; it is now used throughout Scotland by a range of individuals, groups and services, including learning disability services, children and young people and those with limited cooking skills and/or low literacy.

Last year the games section was reviewed and updated to reflect the reductions in fat, sugar and salt in some processed foods. In addition, more one-pot recipes and additional games provided by NHS Tayside were added.

Recent statistics show an increasing demand for food banks; and people from all walks of life utilise the service. Food banks are run by the community, for the community: non-perishable foods are donated and local volunteers sort, pack and distribute the foods to those-in-need. Every food bank user is referred; and to prevent dependency they are limited to three consecutive food bank vouchers.

CAN Toolkit RecipeWith the increase in foodbanks, NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s Nutrition and Dietetic Health Promotion team devised cards with simple meal ideas using common store cupboard /food bank ingredients. The aim was to produce a range of tasty, nutritious meals based around the Eatwell plate, which could be made quickly and easily with the ingredients on offer. To ensure our aim had been achieved all meals were tried and tested by our team and piloted within local community projects. Where necessary, tips were added to improve the flavour but all the finalised ideas were rated as “tasty”. Meals ranged from 50p to 92p per portion.

Some of these simple meal ideas have been incorporated into the regular CAN (Cheap and Nutritious) Toolkit training. All those who have attended the training feel these meal ideas may be the first step for some of their clients, before they move on to cook with fresh ingredients.

As a result of the above piece of work, these simple meal ideas are being added to our CAN toolkits as a hard copy which can be photocopied for individuals to take home, and in a poster format so that foodbanks can display them to the public and advise on suitable items for donation. They will also be made into a downloadable PDF for our NHS Ayrshire & Arran Health Improvement Resource Service catalogue, so that health, local authority and third sector partners can easily access them.

If you have any innovative ideas on how to tackle food poverty please share your approach in the comments section below; or if you are looking for support to develop services in your area or you simply want some more information on our resources, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: tracy.moynihan@aapct.scot.nhs.uk


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