Reflecting on the first two years of Food Power

Sustain, our partners in Food Power, share their learning from the year 2 independent evaluation of the programme.

Food Power supports food poverty alliances around the country to develop a sustainable response to food poverty and its root causes. Our independent evaluators from Cardiff University have now conducted their second annual evaluation of the programme. We are grateful to the team and all the alliances and individuals who fed into the evaluation.

We’re pleased that the year 2 evaluation continues to identify many positive findings, as well as some helpful reflections for us. The evaluation team presented us with four key questions to consider as we deliver the programme and we provide our responses below.

  • What do alliances aim to achieve by involving experts by experience?
  • What should reasonably be expected of them? 
  • What can they expect in return? 
  • How can Food Power showcase to other programmes and initiatives on how to empower experts by experience?
Food Power conference 2019

We will publish guidance for alliances and others working with experts by experience in the New Year. This will cover a wide range of aspects of involving people with lived experience of food poverty. We will work with Barbora Alderova who has just begun a PhD at Cardiff University. Her research will be on Food Power and the role of people with lived experience of food insecurity, specifically who gets involved, how and what happens (or not) next.


How can Food Power best support alliances working with particular but overlapping challenges?

We have published our briefing on challenges faced by rural areas and the response in different rural areas. We will continue to work with alliances based in rural areas and gather learning from our shared experiences. We continue to be mindful of the interactions between food insecurity and characteristics such as disability, gender, ethnicity and age and will continue to encourage alliances to consider how they can respond to the needs of particular groups.

What are alliances achieving and delivering that would not otherwise be happening? Are alliances able to articulate the difference they have made on the ground? How does this come together to make a difference nationally?

We continue to support eight alliances to develop tools for assessing their impact. The eight alliances will come together in early 2020 to assess progress and help us finalise what we can share more widely with the network and beyond. We aim to publish materials in the first half of 2020 and will actively promote these resources. As we deliver the second half of the programme we will continue to share learning from the network and feed this into national policy discussions.


What role can/should Food Power play in supporting alliances to work in an ever-more challenging contexts, in which demand for local services continues to outstrip capacity and resources? If there is no prospect of this easing this, what type of national programme will be most valuable in future?

Our local evaluation tools mentioned above should help alliances to identify progress, even where the best case is ‘standing still’ given the ongoing pressures on household and public sector budgets. In terms of future activities beyond the lifetime of the current programme, we are currently thinking through the questions we need to bring to the network in order to think through future plans. We are committed to involving the network as we think through any future plans.    

Sharing learning and experiences is a fundamental part of Food Power and evaluation and reflection is a core part of this. Please do contact Simon Shaw at Sustain if you have any thoughts on the programme to date and/or our future activities.

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