Community food network launched to help those in needMeet the people behind the new Haringey Community Food Network
Several food initiatives across the borough have united to form the Haringey Community Food Network (HCFN) − a cross-working support system that tackles food poverty and insecurity in Haringey.
With the mission to pool resources and expertise to assist residents experiencing hardship gain access to food, the community-led initiative celebrated its inauguration last month. The collective launch follows individual on-the-ground community work supporting local households, prior to, and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Formed of approximately 15 local food initiatives, including foodbanks, homeless outreach projects, and cooked food delivery services, the newly independent entity can now attract public funds that will be divided across all member groups.
As part of its co-design model of public services delivery, HCFN works in collaboration with local people with lived experience of food insecurity, as well as Haringey Council, which helped support the coordination of the network.
Moussa Amine Sylla, a community organiser at the Selby Food Hub, told HCP: “Our organisational aims are to make sure that no one in Haringey goes hungry, and that they get access to healthy and culturally balanced food, especially those who are the least well off.
“We also aim to reduce food poverty and the need for foodbanks − as you can imagine, this is a very ambitious endeavour.”
HCFN is campaigning to raise awareness of the causes of poverty, including the rising cost of living and unmatched salaries, as well as the hostility of the welfare state.
Moussa said: “The state of welfare and the benefit system in this country is very hostile with the beneficiaries; the sanctions, and the rapid way of being put out of the system is utterly inhumane. Something needs to be addressed.”
Creating a more collaborative approach to developing social care within the community is pivotal to HCFN, and this involves working alongside the local authority, regional authority, and national organisations whenever required, says Moussa.
“I’d say the power dynamic is changing and local politicians are using the language of grassroots, communityled consultation more and more.
“They are actually involving the community in decisions, and it seems that it is a real change. However, the administration [process] is far from that.
“There’s still a top-down approach to many things and we have to struggle to get our voice heard, and to get what we think is the best, to actually move forward.
“But things are changing, and we hope that this collaboration − a new way of working, will enable us to create a cultural change within the administration of Haringey Council, which is really needed."