Interfaith Food Justice Network

Glasgow has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the UK. For many years, food insecurity – experienced by many who are in work as well as those who aren’t – has been tackled by local communities.  They have set up soup kitchens and foodbanks and, more recently, community cafes, fridges, shops, and gardens in response to the needs in their areas. Many of these groups are faith-based, coming from a broad range of traditions, and just as many aren’t faith-based. They all share a central motivation – to look out for their neighbours.

Interfaith Glasgow established the Interfaith Food Justice Network (IFJN) in 2015 in partnership with Faith in Community Scotland. We organised two networking events for local community and emergency food providers and it quickly became clear that there was a deep desire for ongoing opportunities to connect with – and support – others with similar concerns and facing similar challenges.


The level of cooperation is fantastic

As well as sharing practical advice and support, participants also discussed their values, motivations, and their concerns about the underlying causes of food insecurity and poverty. These have been expressed in the collaboratively produced Interfaith Food Justice Declaration, which all groups who engage with the IFJN are encouraged to sign. Rooted in the principle of justice, it states that “access to food is a basic human right, and it is our duty and honour to do what we can to ensure everybody can access food with dignity … we add our voices to the movement for food justice, not just charity: the right of all to access food that is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and grown locally wherever possible, with care for the well-being of the land, workers, animals and the environment”. The declaration ends with a shared commitment to “work…together side by side for effective change”. The IFJN uses the collective voice of participants to call for change and, as a member of the Scottish Food Coalition, has been heavily involved in the movement to make Scotland a Good Food Nation.


It opens new doors and gives hope

We host bi-annual IFJN networking meetings to allow people involved with community and emergency food initiatives from diverse backgrounds to come together to find out about each other’s work, to gain an insight into the factors contributing to our unjust food system, and to consider where mutual support is possible.  And, in pre-COVID times, the network’s development group would meet monthly to shape the focus of the work and to support the delivery of One Big Picnic.

The existence of this network – strengthened through many meetings, collaboration, and volunteer swaps – proved vital with the onset of coronavirus. Cooperation across the network increased dramatically in response to lockdown, as members supported each other in developing new ways of working.  Fortnightly Zoom meetings provide an opportunity for people to put faces to names, and to discuss the challenges they are facing.  And the WhatsApp group doubled in size during the first year of the pandemic and now brings together roughly 80 groups engaged in food provision.  Daily shout outs for help are quickly answered and fewer resources are wasted because groups are sharing their surplus and avoiding duplication. A second WhatsApp group focuses on the sharing of household items for those in need.

Our work with the IFJN means we have been well-placed to direct people to available support and raise awareness of the vital and transformative work that faith communities and others are doing to support their neighbours.  As the city seeks to rebuild, we will be supporting the IFJN in its call for food justice to be at the heart of the recovery.

To find out more about the IFJN visit www.facebook.com/interfaithfoodjustice or get in touch!

This film, made during the coronavirus lockdown in 2020, features members of the IFJN.

Sign the Interfaith Food Justice declaration!
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