UNICEF UK joins forces with Sustain and local community groups to feed vulnerable UK families this winter 

Home > Media Contacts and Press Releases > UNICEF UK joins forces with Sustain and local community groups to feed vulnerable UK families this winter

24 November 2020 – Unicef UK announces new round of grants to support children and families at risk of food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the first time in its history, Unicef UK has partnered with local UK organisations for a one-off domestic emergency response to support vulnerable children and their families during the crisis. ‘Food Power for Generation Covid’, a joint initiative with Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, launched in July of this year, has now awarded grants to 30 UK community projects, hoping to reach between 10,000 and 15,000 young people until the programme ends in April 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic is the most urgent crisis affecting children since the Second World War, upending children’s lives around the world, including in the UK. Even before the pandemic struck, an estimated 2.4 million UK children* were already growing up in food insecure households, and since March 2020 an increasing number of families are facing financial hardship as the economy suffers and unemployment rises.

School Food Matters is one of the organisations to receive funding to support children over the Winter period, and have been awarded £25,000 to provide breakfast boxes for schools in Lambeth and Southwark in London. Similar projects will also run in Stockton on Tees, where families will be delivered fresh fruit and vegetable packs, as well as baking bags and meal kits to support family cooking during the winter holidays.

Other projects around the country, including in Cardiff, Flintshire, Newcastle and Thanet, will provide cooked meals or meal kits using easy, economic and healthy recipes. Aberdeen will see the establishment of its first mobile community pantry and in Blackburn with Darwen, support packages will be developed for new mothers, as well as increasing the number of retailers signed up to the Healthy Start scheme.

Anna Kettley, Director of Programmes at Unicef UK, said: “The pandemic has turned the lives of children and families upside down and for many the continued impact of the pandemic will be increasing financial worries.

“We welcome the Government’s recent announcement to provide a support package to families facing hardships in England. Increasing the value of the Healthy Start Vouchers and expanding the Holiday Activities and Food programme from April next year should also be recognised as important steps forwards in tackling food insecurity and ensuring that children can eat well.

“The additional provision of a £170 million Winter Grant Fund is also welcome. However, we know that there are many Local Authorities and many disadvantaged families across the UK who will require access to this fund over the Winter period. As such, it is critical that these funds are targeted to the children who are most in need.

“Community initiatives will play an essential role and through ‘Food Power for Generation Covid’ we hope to support families at the local level so that children can continue to eat well during this crisis period.”

Simon Shaw, Head of Food Poverty Programme at Sustain, said: “All over the UK local food poverty alliances and food partnerships have been taking action to ensure local people have access to food during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This partnership with Unicef UK comes at crucial point in the midst of heighted Covid restrictions when many individuals’ resources will be depleted. Local alliances are well-placed to support their communities over the next few months and to reach those who have been hardest hit.”

England International Footballer and Child Food Poverty Campaigner, Marcus Rashford, said:

“Unicef UK’s emergency response is vital for our most vulnerable communities. Given the impact of the pandemic, families are struggling more than ever to put food on the table. We must keep fighting for a long-term sustainable solution to combating child food poverty in the UK. We must prepare and equip all children to succeed in their adult lives and that work starts now, by stabilising households and building out an effective food access foundation.”

Anna Kettley continued: “The steps taken by the Government to provide additional financial support go a long way to fulfilling the recommendations made in the National Food Strategy. However, we know that there are still children and families who fall outside of the eligibility criteria. We continue to urge administrations across the UK to address systemic issues that drive food poverty and ensure that every child can realise their right to enough to eat.

For more information visit https://www.unicef.org.uk/what-we-do/our-uk-work/

*The estimated 2.4million children living in food insecure households is based on findings from the Food Foundation. Full press release can be found here: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/New-COVID-19-childrens-food-insecurity-data-FINAL.pdf


Note to editors

For more information, please contact:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, media@unicef.org.uk 


UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK.

Follow UNICEF UK on TwitterLinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.


About Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

The Sustain alliance represents around 100 national public interest organisations working at international, national, regional and local level. Our food poverty programme and campaigns have a joint goal to ensure that all children have access to a nutritious diet, this requires targeted support for low-income children and families.

We are proud of our ability to work nimbly and adapt to events. We quickly established an approach to working during the Covid-19 crisis; securing food for vulnerable people and supporting the local response are two of our priority areas. Our Food Power programme is well-connected into local food networks across the UK and their work to ensure people have access to nutritious food during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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About Food Power 

Food Power is a four-year programme funded by the National Lottery Community Fund delivered by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming and Church Action on Poverty. We have a network of 60+ food poverty alliances from across the UK and covering a range or urban and rural areas. The programme supports these alliances to tackle food poverty in their areas through a combination of practical and strategic projects. Alliances vary in size, but their members usually include community organisations, food banks, food pantries, councils, advice organisations and academics. Members come together over common objectives around reducing food poverty and we have supported many to develop food poverty action plans which cover a combination of immediate and preventative responses, including actions targeted at children and families.

For more information about Food Power visit https://www.sustainweb.org/foodpower/

Follow Food Power on Twitter