The Buy in Bradford food voucher scheme was launched in response to the growing numbers of people in food poverty in the city.
The Bradford Foundation Trust runs a food bank and has supported vulnerable families for many years, often providing for asylum seekers, refugees and those without recourse to public funds. During the course of the pandemic it has, together with businesses, community organisations and Bradford Council handed out thousands of meals to vulnerable families but has seen the numbers it supports escalate.
With people from more than 30 different cultures and ethnicities seeking help, it became increasingly difficult to create a food parcel that met the diverse needs of all. Instead, it developed a food voucher scheme.
Working with Bradford Metropolitan District Council, it proposed that for every £2 the council put into the food voucher scheme, the Trust would pay in £1 to pay for food vouchers. It established a network of retail outlets across the district where customers could collect food using the vouchers, which would exclude items such as cigarettes and alcohol.
The Trust provided recipe ideas for healthy meals and activity packs for children, recognising that 38 per cent of children in Bradford leave primary school either overweight or obese. Since the launch of the scheme, more than 900 people have benefited.
The scheme means a more culturally sensitive and dignified service than a food bank. It has meant that people can choose the food they want from the retailers they prefer and it has boosted the local economy.
This local response to the pandemic has been fast and effective because of the collaboration between Bradford Council, community organisations and the business community, meeting the needs of diverse communities in a dignified way.