The Food Security Challenge Prize in Oldham offered start-up and scale-up grants and mentoring for new or scaling food enterprises that are developing the most effective responses to local food insecurity and focus on long-term change, social impact, and increasing employment in the local food sector. £50,000 was awarded across six grants in two categories, decided by public vote at a live participatory funding event in February 2023. The most votes took home the biggest grant in each category.
The Food Security Challenge Prize complemented our three-month training programme CommunityFed Oldham which offered workshops, webinars, study visits, and specialist support, ranging from developing community-led food enterprises to alternative business models, and from community partnerships to building new markets for local food initiatives. Many prize recipients engaged with the programme before putting themselves forward for the prize.
Such is the scale of our current national food crisis, that data on food poverty is often obsolete by the time it is published. As a growing cost of living crisis bites further into budgets, demand on emergency provision like food banks can only rise. Stretched already by declining donations and a volunteer shortage, the last resort for far too many is on the edge of breaking point. This systemic failure will not be easily solved, but there is a glimmer of possibility amidst the challenges.
What if inspiring food enterprises could be supported with the resources to test new alternatives in the local food system?
How might communities make a start on building a food system that better serves local people?
We invited Oldham residents to apply for the Challenge Prize to access funding for a new enterprise or service that reduces food poverty in the borough as part of efforts to transition from food aid to food security.
Recognising the importance of food as an economic, public health, and cultural issue, we were looking for great local food initiatives that benefit people living and working in Oldham, such as:
This prize complimented our CommunityFed: Oldham series of free events: workshops, webinars and study visits. We strongly encouraged prospective Food Security Challenge Prize applicants to attend these events - which link to a local food enterprise or service they would like to develop. In the end, we found that groups that attended this programme benefited from receiving higher award prizes in the Food Security Challenge Prize.
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