1.15 – 2 pm Wednesday 8 September 2021

Chairs: Marsha Smith, Centre for Business in Society and Dr. Lopa Saxena, Centre for Agro-ecology, Water and Resilience

What enabled and constrained the delivery of food community food services during the pandemic? In the early stages of lockdown in the UK there were simultaneous restrictions in opening community food spaces, a rise in demand for food aid and huge volumes of surplus entering the redistribution system. An unprecedented scaling up of community food services was undertaken to ensure vulnerable people were fed. Community groups switched to hot meal and food parcel services, taxi’s volunteered as delivery drivers, new risks emerged, and new partnerships and procedures were developed.

Most of this vital work happened out of the public view, in dynamic and partial ways, and on an organisation by organisation or city by city basis. In Nottingham alone, for example, social eating groups delivered over 50,000 meals in the first 3 months of lockdown. National Food Service Bristol coordinated food parcels and a new take-away meal service. FareShare Midlands more than doubled the amount of food it redistributed. But what was it actually like to be working in these conditions, and under these demands?

Now that the intense period of service-delivery is over, we are taking time to reflect on how the community food service mobilized during the pandemic. Our panel of corporate, charitable and community partner experts from cities across the UK will each present one challenge they recognise and one opportunity they can identify, based on the work of their organisation or research. We will then have space for discussion and questions from the floor. We will also welcome questions submitted in advance.


Simone Connolly, Regional Manager, FareShare Midlands, UK

  • Louise Delmege, National Food Service, Bristol, UK
  • Hannah Gallimore, Central England Coop
  • Megan Blake, Sheffield University, UK
  • Helen Needham, Foleshill Community Centre, Coventry, UK