A Menu for Change

‘A Menu for Change: Cash, Rights, Food’ aimed to reduce the need for emergency food aid by supporting improved national and local responses to food insecurity. Our approach sought to ensure the underlying causes of food insecurity were addressed whilst taking a more rights-based approach to respond to current needs.

Worrying about Money? referral guides to reduce the need for emergency food aid

Based on learning from the A Menu for Change project, and in response to the significant rise in food aid provision during the pandemic, Nourish Scotland worked with community and emergency food providers, advice providers, third sector interfaces, NHS health improvement teams and local authority staff in 2020/2021 to develop practical, step-by-step guides to promote cash-based responses to food insecurity.

Worrying about Money? leaflets and desktop guides are designed to help frontline staff and volunteers, and those facing financial insecurity, to more easily identify and access appropriate financial advice and support when someone is struggling to afford food.

These resources are part of a rights-based strategy to support people facing food insecurity to access cash-based support and financial entitlements in order to afford food with dignity and choice. This work was delivered in partnership with the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) and with collaboration from The Trussell Trust and a wide range of local partners across Scotland.

Where can I find these guides?

Referral guides based on the learning from the A Menu for Change project have been developed in local authority areas across Scotland. For updated information about the availability of Worrying about Money? leaflets, see IFAN’s Cash First Project.

Example of Highland Council’s approach.

In June 2021 we reflected on the process of developing these resources with Independent Food Aid Network. Promoting a ‘cash first’ approach to food insecurity in Scotland explores lessons learnt from our work together. Further analysis of the effect on collaboration, coordination and outcomes for people facing food insecurity will be included in a forthcoming report later in the year.

A Menu for Change project

This project (2017-2019) was funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered in partnership with Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland and The Poverty Alliance.

The project had four inter-connected workstreams:

  • Supporting Local Practice & Policy Development
  • Research
  • Influencing and Advocacy
  • Building a Network for Change

We recognise that practice on food insecurity is developed within an existing political and policy context. A Menu for Change engaged with that context across our research, advocacy and building a network for change workstreams.

Supporting Local Practice and Policy Development
A Menu for Change worked in partnership with key stakeholders in Dundee, Fife and East Ayrshire to develop, test and promote preventative, rights based, and co-ordinated responses to food insecurity. Project officers supported stakeholders to explore ways to improve:

  • emergency responses – placing cash, rights and dignity at the centre – which meet immediate needs whilst addressing underlying causes; and
  • early intervention measures that prevent occurrence of food insecurity.

We use an Action Learning methodology supporting key stakeholders from the statutory and third sectors to develop a shared understanding of the problems and challenges that exist and how these can be overcome, and then implement policy and practice change to better support individuals experiencing or at risk of food insecurity.

A Menu for Change also assisted in piloting new initiatives, and scaling up existing initiatives, to improve access to preventative interventions and more dignified emergency responses in each area. Pilots included:

  • Referral pathway resources in Dundee, Fife and East Ayrshire
  • Community larders and co-operatives in Methil and Kilmarnock
  • Support worker based in a community setting to offer consistent referrals to people facing food crisis in Dundee

In October 2019, the Project launched the Found Wanting report, based on primary research designed to better understand people’s journeys leading to and following acute food insecurity, focusing in particular on the factors which may have precipitated or prevented (repeat) crisis. The research explored two elements, ‘journeying back’ with individuals to identify earlier intervention points, and longitudinal enquiry to understand an individuals’ journey in the ‘aftermath’ of experiencing income and food crisis – including their longer-term outcomes.

Given the important role of the Scottish Welfare Fund in supporting people in financial crisis, we also explore models of good practice across different local authority areas. Recommendations and guidance around good practice are included in the Strengthening the Safety Net report (June, 2019).

Influencing and Advocacy
A key objective of A Menu for Change was to support the prevention of food insecurity and the delivery of improved responses in Scotland through evidence-based advocacy and influencing activities.

We shared the learning and evidence generated through our practice development and research workstreams with UK, Scottish and local government as well as third sector stakeholders to inform and improve policy and practice on preventing, and responding to, food insecurity.

Building a Network for Change
Another objective of A Menu for Change was to support key stakeholders to be part of a Scotland-wide movement which challenges the drivers of food insecurity, calls for socially just solutions, and highlights and promotes rights-based and preventative responses.

For more information about the A Menu for Change project please visit our project page.