Havering pilots app to help tackle food poverty

Published: Thursday, 19 November 2020

Havering Council is working with food-sharing app OLIO, and the University of Nottingham, to combat food poverty in the borough.

The project will help the Council to identify, track and predict areas where residents may need support to access affordable food.

It will give us a useful picture of what’s happening in the borough - allowing us to provide the right help at the right time for residents in need..

It is hoped the new tool will help solve a major problem for Councils currently fighting food poverty in their area: a lack of up-to-date and accurate data.

The Council will use food donation data from OLIO, enabling us to measure areas in need and proactively help those who are forced to skip meals or have limited access to nutritious food.

OLIO and the University of Nottingham started Phase I of the project in October, funded through a £47k grant from Innovate UK.

Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council, said:

“Havering has done an amazing job through lockdown to help respond to the Covid 19 crisis and protect our residents, supported throughout by an army of incredible volunteers and foodbanks.

“Having access to real-time data concerning food poverty in our communities will be invaluable in our effort to ensure people don’t go hungry.

"In October, we committed to continue providing Free School meals over half term and Christmas, and participating in this pilot scheme will allow us to extend the focus to all areas of our community that are struggling with food poverty.”

Tessa Clarke, co-founder of OLIO, said:

“Over eight million people in the UK live in food poverty and suffer from its ill effects, from low educational attainment to high health bills. With the current pandemic, the stakes have never been higher to find innovative ways to ensure we all have access to the food we need.”

“Our Food Poverty Prediction Map enables councils and local authorities to support the most vulnerable in their communities by using real-time data to inform their decision-making.

"For the first time, they can truly be on the front foot to help the ‘hidden hungry’.”

“This proof-of-concept marks the first step in OLIO’s vision to not only reveal the true footprint of food poverty, but to also give local organisations real tools to combat it.”

Dr James Goulding, Deputy Director of N-LAB said:

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support this project and play a part in giving access to better data on food insecurity to Local Authorities.”