The sharp rise in the cost of living has triggered the need for food banks with an increase of 29% compared to last year. With more than half of Britons admitting their overall health has worsened due to the crisis, recipe box Gousto is working with one of the UK’s busiest food banks and local government on an innovative pilot to make make food packages healthier.
The current food packages are designed for people in occasional crises, expected to be no more than three or four times a year, rather than long-term needs caused by the current crisis. The packs consist of NHS-approved foods such as long-lasting essentials such as tinned beans, tinned spaghetti, soups and cereals.
However, the Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank is finding that up to a third of its food goes to people who return at least once a month, as inflation hits its highest level in 40 years. With energy prices forecast to rise again to reach £500 a month in January, there are no signs that this trend is abating.
This follows a long-term increase in the need for food banks with an 81% increase in need over the past year compared to the same period five years ago***.
With three quarters of food bank patrons reporting at least one health issue***, Gousto is working with Hammersmith and Fulham Food Bank, in the Trussell Trust network, to test the mental, physical and social benefits of delivering food fresh and healthy. packages in the form of meal kits, in addition to providing enhanced comprehensive support services.
Funded by the local council and Gousto, the pilot program will run for 12 weeks in Hammersmith and Fulham, starting in the summer holidays when families face the added pressure of feeding their children. Research conducted by the council and supported by Imperial College London’s Self-Care Research Unit (SCARU) will assess the mental health and well-being benefits of improved food packages and accessible home cooking, along with the physical and social. The ambition is that the learnings will help inform the approach of emergency food providers across the country.
Gousto’s nutritionist and registered dietitian, Ellie Bain, designed the vegetarian meal kits packed with fresh, healthy ingredients and specially designed recipes. Each recipe includes at least two of your five a day, whole grains, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, eggs, and avocados, and requires less than 30 minutes to cook. To save energy, all recipes can be cooked without an oven. Meals are from over nine different global cuisines, helping to make dining variety more accessible.
Gousto CEO and Founder Timo Boldt says: “Everything we do at Gousto is driven by our purpose to make a positive impact on people and the planet. Using our expertise in creating healthy, balanced meals, we hope to make a real impact on the nation’s health from this innovative pilot.
We are proud to work with Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust network, and help provide immediate support to the community in and around our London headquarters. We believe in the power of nutritious home cooking to drive health and wellness, and we can’t wait to see how this pilot informs future strategies for food banks.”
Phil Storey, CEO of Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank says: “We don’t think it’s right that the food bank should exist. We are passionate about addressing the issues that drive people to use a food bank. We want to make sure that people can access the support that will help them pay for the essentials in life. We know that providing emergency food is not the answer that will end the need for food banks, but we hope this exciting pilot with Gousto will help inform our approach to improving the support we provide to people facing hardship.”
Cllr Ben Coleman, Hammersmith & Fulham Deputy Council Leader, says: “With more residents using food banks on a regular basis in this cost of living crisis, it is timely to investigate whether more nutritious food is provided, rather than food for short-term emergencies, could strengthen people’s mental health. The council is proud to co-fund this study as part of our commitment to ensuring that no resident goes hungry and that all residents can eat healthily.”
Recipes for the pilot involve breakfast, lunch and dinner for one week and volunteers from Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank will deliver them weekly for 12 weeks. The recipes created by Gousto have been tested by food bank customers to ensure the flavor hits the spot and the cooking methods are fully accessible. Recipes include the cheesy black bean chili, three-vegetable miso and sesame egg ramen, and simple one-pot puttanesca.
The partnership in this pilot is a continuation of the work that the B Corp Certified recipe box has done with the Trussell Trust and other organizations that support people with low food security. During the pandemic, Gousto donated the equivalent of 6,000 meals to Trussell Trust network food banks and consulted with DEFRA on a response effort for the vulnerable.
Today, Gousto partners with FareShare to redistribute surplus food in its supply chain to people in need. Last year, nearly 500,000 meals were donated to nearly 2,000 charities and communities.