More than just food

A film about how community organisations are using food to help overcome loneliness and everyday food insecurity, while also transforming their communities.  Eating together with others, what I call social eating, has so many benefits. 

We have a crisis of loneliness.  For those who are struggling to afford food being able to afford social activities is also out of reach.  People who have good social relationships live happier and better lives.  Evidence shows that people who have heart attacks are more likely to still be alive in a year’s time if they have strong social networks.  We also know that places where there is a sense of a community are more resilient. 

The two communities featured in the film, Edlington in Doncaster and Goldthorpe in Barnsley, are both places that some would describe as highly deprived, in fact, they are both in the top 10% of highly deprived places in England.  Both are ex-mining villages in Yorkshire.  While once close-knit places, the loss of the mines and associated incomes and years of being at the sharp end of austerity policies have created places where there is struggle, low life expectancy, anti-social behaviour, and all the other ills that align with deprivation.

Both the organisations in the film use food to bring the community together.  Both organisations seek to engage and activate those within their communities to affect change. Change is happening.  People in these places are feeling safer, they are feeling healthier, and they are feeling happier.  They are connecting with their neighbours and developing social support systems.  They are growing gardens and planning social activities.  They are starting businesses and having competitions to recognise local talent. They are sharing skills.

As with many communities defined by their lack, it is often easy to overlook that which is positive.  These communities are not alone in this and the community organisations in the film, while outstanding in their own right, are representative of many community organisations across the country that are changing the nature of these places.

Community organisations that are particularly good at doing this are doing the following things:

Please share your stories in the comments box below!  How has social eating changed your life or your community?

Music credit: The Sun is Scheduled to Come Out Tomorrow by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (…) Source: Artist: