Lizzie Gore-Grimes is galvanized after meeting four of the most inspiring socially responsible food campaigners in Ireland.
On Wednesday evening just gone, the Irish Food Writers? Guild launched their inaugural Social Responsibility Awards (#IFWG_SRaward), and the applause the various people and projects received on the night is still ringing in my ears. These various foodie folk are the people on the frontline, fighting to make Ireland a better place to live - and eat in - and they are greatly in need of recognition and support.
When we live in a world where starvation and obesity epidemics rage apace - it has to make you wonder if there isn't something more we could be doing to redress the balance. And there is. Even when the problem is intimidatingly huge and global, we can each make a difference. We just need to start small. If you look to your own community, your own family, your own house - you can make small changes that make a big difference.
If the idea of national food waste, the hunger of the homeless and young children going to school on empty, rumbling stomachs due to food poverty, bothers you, then take a minute to familiarise yourself with what these people are doing and, if you can, do your own bit to support these life-changing projects.
On the night, the Irish Food Writers? Guild presented the Dublin Simon Community with a Hall of Fame award for the incredible work they have been doing, since 1970, with The Simon Community Soup Run. This project consists of over 100 part-time volunteers who walk the streets in all weather, offering soup, sandwiches, tea and a bit of chat to people who are homeless around the city. In conjunction with the Rough Sleepers Team, the Soup Run volunteers conduct street searches for people sleeping rough, maintain contact with them and try to help them form links back into the community. The Soup Run goes out 365 nights of the year and is often the first point of contact for people who want to link into Simon's range of services.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: Click on this link www.dubsimon.ie/Services/EmergencyOutreach/SoupRun and hit the Donate Now button or contact [email protected] and sign up to volunteer.
The main award then went to the Bia Food Initiative. Set up in June 2012, this Cork-based group set up a Food Redistribution Centre in July 2014 in order to match surplus with scarcity. BiaFi now campaigns to raise awareness on the issue of food waste in Ireland and to tackle the problem of food poverty through redistribution of surplus food. It is a hugely ambitious nationwide initiative and it's brilliant to hear that they are now opening two more large distribution centres, complete with refrigerated storage, in Oranmore, Co. Galway and in Tallaght, Co Dublin. They are currently working with all the major multiples in the country so let's spread the good word and help them make more connections.
A special commendation was awarded to Healthy Food For All - an all-island community and school food initiative that aims to alleviate food poverty by fostering positive changes in nutrition and the healthy eating behaviours of families and young people. Various projects run by Healthy Food For All help low-income families and communities learn new skills around growing and eating healthy food. They are also involved in setting up and supporting Breakfast Clubs and school growing programmes.
The fourth gong of the evening went to Flanagan's Field Community Garden in Rialto. Where, a group of passionate growers have transformed an urban eyesore on the site of the former Fatima Mansions, into a community garden that houses Dublin's first geodesic dome. The grow-dome is an intensive year-round sustainable food producer, an exhibition space, and a meeting and education area. The garden offers the space required to facilitate groups, encourage interaction and change social attitudes through horticulture. The garden has fostered a sense of ownership in the community, which has brought with it a commitment to improve and engage. There is a communal growing area and individual cultivated plots, and the initiative has inspired local people to produce their own food. A broad spectrum of groups converge in this green space, inspiring a local health food initiative, three primary schools, two homework clubs and a parent and toddler group to foster a love of gardening and embrace food production as part of the curriculum they deliver. Plus, it looks brilliant - Dublin's latest piece of iconic urban sculpture. ! If you haven't been - go pay them a visit.