Our food development workers are all busy collating the last four months of data sent from food co-op volunteers across Wales. The information helps the Rural Regeneration Unit to report back to our funders and showcase how important our programme is, in improving access to fresh and affordable produce to the public in Wales.
You may or may not be aware that Tuesday 16th October 2012 is World Food Day.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) celebrates World Food Day annually and the theme for this year is:
“Agricultural Co-operatives: Key to Feeding the World”
The Community Food Co-operative Programme in Wales is dependent on volunteers. If it were not for them generously giving their time, there would not be in excess of 340 community food co-ops running across Wales. They are the driving force in their communities and we want to say a huge thank you for making a commitment to healthy eating, local food and community development become a reality through the programme.
The Welsh Government defines volunteering as “An important expression of citizenship and an essential component of democracy. It is the commitment of time and energy for the benefit of society and the community and can take many forms. It is undertaken freely and by choice, without concern for financial gain”. RRU volunteers certainly fulfil this description. The time and energy used for the benefit of society and community by our volunteers is amazing. Each volunteer gives approximately two hours a week of their time to their community or school food co-op, often more, in particular where lead volunteers are concerned. The evaluation done by BMG research calculated that volunteers with the community food co-operative programme give in excess of 160,762 hours a year of volunteering.
According to the Chief executive of WCVA Graham Benfield, in the years 2010-11 there has been a reduction in spending on the third sector. With rising prices and pay freezes, this resulted in an even greater challenge for third sector organisations. Since April 2012 there have been, on average approximately 2303 volunteers involved each month with the community food co-ops programme, with 158 of these being new volunteers. Also, the 2010-11 WCVA volunteer of the year award received 20% more nominations than in 2009-10. These two factors demonstrate the third sector community to now be stronger than ever.
WCVA provides numerous services to the public, volunteers and also to third sector organisations. These include conferences and seminars on subjects of major interest to the sector, a third sector recruitment service via http://www.recruit3.org.uk and a third sector trading website via http://www.3to3.org.ukwhich helps charities and social enterprises reach more customers.
WCVA also manages the Sustainable Funding Cymru website. http://www.sustainablefundingcymru.org.ukPlease see last month’s blog entry for more about our thoughts on sustainability.
When commenting on the forthcoming years Programme of Government in July 2011, First Minister Carwyn Jones stated that:
“Sustainability is more than just a green idea. It is about defining the long term development plan for our nation. It means healthy, productive people, vibrant, inclusive communities, a diverse and resilient environment and an advanced and innovative economy”.
The RRU are proud to be part of supporting the success of this programme. In the past year we have placed greater emphasis on increasing the sustainability throughout the Community Food Co-operative Programme in Wales, making it a priority. We feel that doing so is essential if a sustainable Wales is to be foreseen in the near future.
This year, the Welsh Government are making preparations for a Sustainable Development Bill with the intention of strengthening the approach and changing the commitment to a legal duty. This will ultimately result in all public bodies taking a long term approach in enabling a sustainable Wales. It will also allow people to work together with an identifiable and collective aim. Evidence will then become accessible so that when making decisions, public bodies can provide the best value for the people they serve now and in the future. To view the proposals to develop and strengthen sustainability in Wales in a little more depth, please visit: – http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/consultation/120508susdevbillconsulten.pdf
The RRU support this Bill and have signed the Government’s S.D. Charter which outlines our ways of ensuring that what we do, will play a part in the aim to create a sustainable Wales. Where the Community Food Co-operative Project is concerned, we are currently working with Ecostudio to develop ways of measuring sustainability performance of the community food co-ops and their suppliers in Wales. By introducing sustainable indicators and measures throughout the Community Food Co-operative Programme, we at the RRU will be fulfilling both our own and the Welsh Government’s commitment to sustainability. We also aim to increase the proportion of Welsh fruit and vegetables sold through the food co-ops, while increasing the range of Welsh produce available, creating a more sustainable local supply chain.
The Bill itself, which will be introduced in the autumn of 2013, will be the driving force in creating a sustainable Wales. The RRU welcome being part of such a dedicated and important aspect of Wales’ present and future health and environmental welfare.
The evaluation report of the Community Food Co-operative Programme has now been published.
The programme aims to increase people’s access to, and consumption of, fresh fruit and vegetables and to support local Welsh suppliers. The Rural Regeneration Unit manages the programme which is funded by the Welsh Government. The programme currently supports over 350 food co-ops across Wales and has been funded since 2004.
The evaluation examined take-up and consumption, the effectiveness of the delivery model and the impact of the programme on participants, volunteers, suppliers and the wider community.
The report has been published on the Welsh Government website at http://wales.gov.uk/about/aboutresearch/social/latestresearch/?lang=en
Welsh Food Summit, 12th July 2012 at the National Botanic Garden of Wales
Statement by Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes
“On Thursday July 12 I convened a Welsh Food Conference at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne. I am very grateful to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for agreeing to attend the conference and for giving the opening address. His Royal Highness has been a consistent and strong supporter of food producers in Wales and his vision for a sustainable and successful food sector is one that is both compelling and persuasive.
The Welsh Government is committed to doing all we can to deliver a thriving and sustainable food sector that is able to support and sustain employment and prosperity across the whole of Wales. I am confident that there is a long term viable future for our food and drink industry but aware that there are challenges as well as opportunities.
The purpose of last week’s conference was to bring together people from across the different parts of the food supply chain to discuss how the Welsh Government can strengthen its work to support food production in Wales. I am anxious to listen to key people in the industry and ensure that their views shape the future development of the Welsh Government’s approach.
There are opportunities for change now – arising from the latest round of CAP reform and the need for a new Rural Development Plan beyond 2013. The Food and Farming Sector Panel is providing the Government with advice on taking forward economic development policy and I will focus during the summer on how I expect the Government to deliver its food strategy. I will be making a further written statement in the autumn which captures the views of the conference and delivers this vision for Wales.”
As per HRH Prince Charles’ address to the Food Summit and Alun Davies’ statement detailed above, the RRU is fully in agreement with the key messages, that we need to support efforts to grow more Welsh food in Wales and we need to see more veg grown in Wales.
The RRU is delighted to report that it is growing the link between suppliers and growers of fresh fruit and veg through its Community Food Co-operative Programme across Wales which is supported by the Welsh Government.
We at the RRU will be bringing you all our regularly updated news and stories via our blog.