Dundee Food Insecurity Network: a new model of accountable, responsive, and effective local government?

The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the gaping holes in society’s social safety net. It demonstrated the level of financial insecurity within society, with millions of households unable to absorb any form of financial shock. This is most visibly demonstrated through the queues outside food banks across the UK – 4.7 million of adults are now experiencing food insecurity (The Food Foundation, 2021). Poor mental health is both a cause and a consequence of food insecurity. People experience low income, food insecurity and poor mental health as cyclical issues. Any solution therefore needs a cyclical, interconnected response. The increased visibility of food insecurity as a societal rather than individual issue during the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside the clear lack of capacity within formal structures to effectively respond to crisis, presents an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the structure of local government. The dynamic nature of food insecurity requires a dynamic response; traditional policy frameworks, with decision-makers remaining distant from the issues they need to resolve, has been shown to be wholly inadequate to deal with the food crisis. Instead, new models of practice have emerged. In Dundee, community food projects worked together with local government to develop the Food Insecurity Network. The Network enabled a dynamic and dignified response to the food crisis, ensuring that both direct food provision and policy decisions responded to the lived experiences of people experiencing food shortages during the pandemic. The Food Insecurity Network is an example of a new model of practice that embeds accountability while ensuring people’s dignity. The opportunity therefore is to understand how this model of practice enabled the delivery of an effective city-wide response to food insecurity: to understand why it worked, how it worked, and how this model of crisis response could help us to rethink the very structure of local government.




%d bloggers like this: