Tackling food insecurity
In 2016 The Independent Working Group on Food Poverty, whose membership included people with lived experience of food insecurity, recommended transitioning the response to food insecurity from charitable approaches towards rights-based, dignified approaches. This includes support to maximise income, and to access nutritious food in inclusive, community settings. Find out more about dignified approaches including the four dignity principles.
Scotland’s approach to tackling food insecurity is grounded in human rights; as set out in our statement to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Poverty and the Right to Food in February 2021, we prioritise action that prevents food insecurity through fair work and social security.
As previously confirmed in the Programme for Government, we have published, and launched a consultation on, a draft national plan with the steps we intend to take to end the need for food banks as a primary response. Using the powers we have, we will work with local partners to strengthen cash-first responses to hardship. In doing so, we are listening to food banks and people with direct experience of using their services.
Anyone who is worried about affording essentials like food or fuel should contact the national helpline on 0800 111 4000 where they will be put in contact with local advice and support, including the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: tackling food insecurity during the coronavirus
In 2020-21 we invested £70 million in flexible local responses to food and financial insecurity with a strong steer in favour of cash. Read our guidance for further information. Highlights trends and learning to enhance future policy and practice, our report summarises activities delivered by local authorities using flexible funding streams on financial insecurity over October 2020 – March 2021.
In addition to this, we bolstered the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments, and put in place Low Income Pandemic Payments to support those at greatest risk. Further support was available through our national grocery box scheme and through holiday support for those eligible for free school meals on the basis of low income.
We also invested over £100 million across the Wellbeing, Supporting Communities, and Third Sector Recovery Funds which include supporting a range of food based activity alongside wider wellbeing action
Fair Food Fund
In 2017-2019 we awarded grants to 34 community organisations through the Fair Food Transformation Fund. Read a review of the Fair Food Transformation Fund.
The Fair Food Transformation Fund has now merged with other community funds to become the Investing in Communities Fund which will continue to fund community organisations that aim to tackle food insecurity in a dignified way.
Childhood and school holiday food insecurity
Our £20 million Summer Offer for Children and Young People, one of the 100 days commitments, provided opportunities to have fun and reconnect with peers, with food, childcare and wider family support available where needed as recommended by the Poverty and Inequality Commission.
We have continued to provide funding for payments, vouchers and food parcels during all school holidays for those eligible for free school meals on the basis of low income as part of our phased expansion of free school meals. This followed £56 million investment during 2020-21 on meal alternatives during the holidays.