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Let’s talk about food

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Aber Food Forum: Community Cafe kitchen (Pic. Alun Williams)

ABER FOOD FORUM are staging regular Community Cafe events in Aberystwyth.

The idea is that people come along, share a meal, enjoy good company and talk together about food-related issues. The meals are prepared with surplus food donated by Morrisons supermarket. At the last Community Cafe on January 10, supper was served to 25 people in Taste on Terrace Road. The idea for Aber Food Forum grew out of conversations between Naomi Salmon and Jane Powell in the wake of the latter’s Food Values project, which was led by Organic Centre Wales.

Food Values researched how people’s values could inform the delivery of successful food education.

A FOOD UMBRELLA

Naomi Salmon told The Herald: “Basically, what had become clear to both of us was that whilst there is a lot going on in and around Aber in terms of food-related activities, there was no ‘umbrella’ network or any sort of obvious forum that could help to bring all these fabulous initiatives and interested citizens together.

“Projects and groups such as Edible Mach, local community gardens, such as Borth Community Gardens and Tyfu Aber, ethical small businesses etcetera, all play a crucial role in the local food landscape but, for a variety of reasons, and to varying degrees, there is something of disconnect or lack of coherence across what we describe broadly as ‘our local food environment’. If we imagine a landscape, it’s sort of like a patchwork of amazing fertility and vibrant growth but with various hills obscuring the broader view.”

“The last few years have witnessed a real groundswell of concern about the way the current food system functions and a strong desire in many people to see, and to create, positive change.

“We felt that if we set up a sort of ‘hub’, we could provide a good platform for individuals, community groups, vegetable growers, farmers, small food businesses and activists to come together. It felt that while we all know broadly what’s going on within our various social and work ‘bubbles’, it’s often the case that there are great things going on that we don’t know about.

“How brilliant it would be, we thought, to facilitate the strengthening and broadening of our vibrant local food system. How amazing it would be to create a forum for skills-sharing, awareness raising and conversations about food. So, as a first step, we created the Facebook group page and started running more or less monthly ‘Community Cafe’ events. These are themed evening events which have proven to be successful and very enjoyable. I’ve certainly met people who I might not have connected with otherwise.

“We’ve had sessions where Aber Food Surplus have talked about their work and motivations and have also provided and cooked the meal. We’ve had evenings of talks about cider-making and the wonders of sauerkraut. We’ve even had a poetry evening.”

HALVE FOOD WASTE BY 2030

On the broader view, campaigners have called on the EU to halve food waste by 2030. If this initiative was adopted, it would eliminate 44 million tonnes of food waste every year in the UK alone. On Tuesday (Jan 24), the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted on new regulations that will determine food waste policy for the next 15 years. The campaign is backed by 42 organisations from 15 countries. More than 47,000 people have signed an online petition supporting the initiative. The committee duly voted for the Circular Economy Package. Although MEPs also strengthened legislation to halve food waste by 2030, the target remains voluntary and non-binding.

Martin Bowman, a campaigner with Machynlleth-based organisation This is Rubbish, which started the UK public petition, said: “The circular economy package has potential to be the most ambitious food waste agreement in the world, and that’s urgently needed – both for the environment and the millions suffering from food poverty in Europe.”

This is Rubbish estimate that the 88 million tonnes of food wasted in EU countries every year could feed the 55 million people designated as living in food poverty in Europe more than nine times over. France and Italy already have national schemes to reduce food waste. This month, the UK’s major supermarkets have faced questions from a parliamentary inquiry about food waste in their supply chains.

Although supermarkets do make some effort to redistribute out-of-date but still edible food via charities and food banks, at less than 2% of their total surpluses, their contribution is much less than in other European countries.

NEXT ON THE MENU IN ABER

Aber Food Forum has grown to a core team of five, incorporating people who set up Aber Food Surplus. The Forum are looking for more volunteers to join their organising committee as they move forward. The next Community Cafe will be on Tuesday, February 7 at 6.30pm – see the group’s Facebook page for details of the venue. The evening will have a marine-environment conservation theme, which is highly topical due to the implications of Brexit for marine conservation. The Herald is reasonably certain Cardigan Bay scallops will not be in the menu. On Monday, February 13, from 2pm to 7pm in the Morlan Centre, Aber Food Forum in collaboration with Cynnal y Cardi have organised a ‘visioning afternoon’ entitled ‘Let’s Talk About Food’, inviting everyone to ‘drop in for a quick cuppa and chat or stay for the whole afternoon’. They particularly want to meet anyone involved in local food projects, members of community gardens, and people making and processing food locally. Aber Food Forum are interested in the food issues that concern people and their families.

They would like to improve the availability of locally produced food and build on ‘all the great work that is already being done in our little corner of Wales’.

We asked Naomi Salmon what people who support the aims of Aber Food Forum should do: “Join us! Come along to the next Community Cafe event. Come along to our bigger ‘visioning’ day at the Morlan. Bring your knowledge, skills, passion, energy and desire for change! We can all make a difference and in a world where the global challenges we face can feel overwhelming, grassroots local action can be very empowering!”

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Community

Lampeter to have its say on £10,000 funding for community groups

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Community groups in Lampeter will soon have the chance to apply for funds from a pot of £10,000
committed by Dyfed-Powys Police Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn.
The commissioner has called on groups to take advantage of funding for projects that aim to
improve safety in the area.

Mr Llywelyn has committed £140,000 for Neighbourhood Policing Teams to spend within the
communities they serve. Each team will receive £10,000, with communities themselves voting on
how the money is allocated.

Lampeter is next on the list of events – and the NPT is calling on partner organisations and people
who live or work in the town to join forces and form a community planning group to make key
decisions.

Mr Llywelyn said: “I have committed to fund this new and innovative approach to community
funding as I think it’s vital that local residents have a say in how money is spent in their local area.
“They are best placed to work with the police, and indeed other partner agencies, to identify where
the money is needed and what would most benefit the local communities.
“Communities should be influencing the decisions.

“I urge the various community groups in Lampeter to consider the funding that I have made
available, and to contact the Lampeter NPT to discuss ideas, so the whole community can work
together to improve community safety.”

The planning group will attend several meetings – either socially distanced or online – over the next
few months to agree on key decisions and planning. Details will then be released on how groups can
apply for the funding, and an event will take place, giving people a chance to vote on which projects
should benefit.

Superintendent Ifan Charles, force lead on participatory budgeting, said: “Participatory budgeting is
a way of giving communities a greater say in how their community evolves.

“Problem solving to find long term solutions to solve the issues that cause communities the greatest
harm, is at the core of our new neighbourhood policing model.

“Through informed community engagement and problem solving, the new neighbourhood structure
should reduce the long-term harm for our communities and with that, demand on our response
officers, but this will only work if our communities and partners are equally engaged.
“Participatory budgeting has worked really well elsewhere and I’m really excited to lead the
introduction of this innovative approach here.”

If you live, work or play in Lampeter and would like to be involved, or if you have any questions,
please register an interest at LampeterPB@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk
Follow the NPT on Twitter at @LampeterPolice for further updates. #LampeterPB

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Community

Ceredigion lifesavers go the extra mile during lockdown

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Loyal blood donors in Ceredigion have responded to a request from the Welsh
Blood Service to ‘donate differently’ by rolling up their sleeves to make a
lifesaving donation at one of the Service’s new regional hubs.

Across Wales, of the 6,808 individuals that visited a Welsh Blood Service donation
session in May 63% of donors attended a clinic that was not their usual donation
venue.

In Ceredigion, 293 donors came forward to give blood in May, with 34 attending a
donation session for the very first time.

Following a series of Covid-19 related venue cancellations and social distancing
restrictions, the Welsh Blood Service was unable to host donation sessions at the thirty
community venues it would typically visit across Wales each week.

The Service introduced a new collections schedule at the beginning of April which saw
collections taken from five regional donation hubs at different locations in Wales each
week. Donors were asked to travel to donate at their nearest hub.

Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service, said: “When it became clear we
couldn’t continue with business as usual, we knew we’d have to ask donors to donate
differently. Our regional donation hubs have replaced our usual local collections
programme and the response from donors has been remarkable.

“98.3% of the appointments we’ve made available since lockdown have been taken
and many of these appointments have been taken by donors who have been prepared
to go even further out of their way than they usually would just to make a potentially
lifesaving donation.”

The Service has also observed a sharp rise in the number of new donors coming
forward to donate.

Mr Prosser continued: “In May 2019, around 11% of those that attended our donation
sessions were new donors. This May, around 19% of our attendance has been people
who had never given before.

“We’ve also see a surge in the number of donors who haven’t given in years returning
to our sessions to help us boost stocks. It’s been amazing and we’re hugely grateful.”

Blood stocks in Wales have remained healthy throughout the pandemic as the reduced
collections activity has mirrored a reduction in the volume of blood used by hospitals.
However, the Service is urging donors to continue to attend their local sessions as and
when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

“Blood stocks are currently very healthy thanks to the commitment of new and existing
donors but we need people to keep giving blood to ensure we can continue to meet
hospital demand in the coming months. Travel to donate is considered essential travel
and anyone who is fit, well and eligible to donate can book an appointment through the
welshblood.org.uk website.”

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Community

Porth Cymorth Cynnar supporting residents in Ceredigion

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During this challenging period, Porth Cymorth Cynnar has established a virtual platform to ensure that we are able to keep in touch with vulnerable residents across Ceredigion.

Due to the restrictions introduced to safeguard our communities against COVID-19, many residents are not able to access their usual provision or support such as parent groups or GP Referral Exercise Classes. Instead, we are ensuring that all residents whom are known to our services, and others, are kept in touch with, through regular welfare calls, should they wish.

Around 2000 residents from young people to families to carers, who may require or benefit from regular contact whilst their service is not operating in its usual form, will receive communication from our staff.

To date, almost 2000 welfare calls have been made, and have been well received by people across Ceredigion. Residents have said that it is great that someone is keeping in touch with them, to give them an opportunity to have a weekly phone call and someone to talk to.

Mrs Jones* (name changed for anonymity) who is 92 and lives alone, is used to receiving regular visits from Ceredigion’s mobile library was identified as benefiting from a weekly phone call, to check how she was doing, now that her usual library service would not be visiting for a while. Porth Cymorth Cynnar aimed to get in touch with Mrs Jones, but did not have a contact number. After tracking down a contact number through the local directory, a member of the Porth y Gymuned team was able to make contact. Luckily Mrs Jones has the support of family and neighbours to collect groceries, but nonetheless was extremely grateful to have someone to talk to, and to check that she is OK. A weekly phone check in has been organised with Mrs Jones, to ensure that she is doing well and to organise if she is in need of anything.

If you, or anyone you know would benefit from the Keeping in Touch Service, please get in touch with our Customer Services team on 01545 570881 or clic@ceredigion.gov.uk who will triage your query to Porth Cymorth Cynnar.

Porth Cymorth Cynnar are also regularly updating resource lists which are available on the Ceredigion County Council website here: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus

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