Knowsley Kitchen is to receive funding from Unicef UK to support children and families at risk of food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the first time in its 70-year history, Unicef UK has moved to develop a UK domestic emergency response. ‘Food Power for Generation Covid’ is a joint initiative with Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, which will help provide food for vulnerable children and their families by awarding grants to UK community projects like Knowsley Kitchen.

The coronavirus pandemic is the most urgent crisis affecting children since the Second World War, upending children’s lives around the world and in the UK. Even before the pandemic struck, an estimated 2.4 million UK children were already growing up in food insecure households and since March 2020, families have faced hardship and struggled to make ends meet and access food, as the economy suffers and jobs have been lost. This has meant that across the UK, there has been an increased demand placed on community support services like Knowsley Kitchen.

One Knowsley is leading a new collaboration of community organisations, social enterprise and independent business to establish The Knowsley Kitchen, a partnership with access to fresh food for all at its heart.

Knowsley Kitchen is inspired by Lucy Antal (Alchemic Kitchen) and Dave Critchley (executive chef at Lu Ban, and founder of The LIDS Delivery Service), this Knowsley enterprise and Knowsley resident have come together with local organisations to build upon the appetite within the voluntary, community and faith sector in Knowsley to build a sustainable food network and respond to communities during Covid-19 and beyond.

Based on mutual aid, boxes of fresh seasonal produce including bread from Homebaked Anfield are just the start.  As Knowsley Kitchen develops, their intentions include educational projects, recipes and so much more; but the ultimate aim is to address the current and long-term problem of access to fresh food, whilst reducing food waste and improving health outcomes.

Anna Kettley, Director of Programmes at Unicef UK, said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted children and families over the last eight months. Their lives have been upended and sadly, we know that for many families across the UK, coronavirus will have a continued impact on family finances.

“Through ‘Food Power for Generation Covid’ we aim to ensure families are reached at the local level through the services provided by Knowsley Kitchen, so children can continue to eat well during this crisis.”

Simon Shaw, Head of Food Poverty Programme at Sustain, said: “All over the UK local food poverty alliances like One Knowsley have been taking action to ensure local people have access to food during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This partnership with Unicef UK comes at crucial point in the midst of heightened Covid restrictions when many individuals’ resources will be depleted. Local alliances like One Knowsley are well-placed to support their communities over the next few months and to reach those who have been hardest hit.”

“Unicef UK’s emergency response to the pandemic and the funding for Knowsley Kitchen is part of our effort to reach the families and communities most in need as the impact of the pandemic worsens – but we can’t do it alone.” Kettley added.

“While the new package of measures announced by the UK Government last week goes a long way to fulfilling the recommendations made in the National Food Strategy, we know that there are still children and families who fall outside the eligibility criteria and it of course only applies to England. It is critical that these new measures, due to start next April, are available to all families and children who need them.

“In the meantime, the Winter Grant Scheme must be targeted and focused on reaching those most in need of support. We continue to urge administrations across the UK to ensure every child can access healthy and nutritious food, during this pandemic and beyond.”

For more information visit https://www.unicef.org.uk/what-we-do/our-uk-work/

*The estimated 2.4million children living in food insecure households is based on findings from the Food Foundation. Full press release can be found here: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/New-COVID-19-childrens-food-insecurity-data-FINAL.pdf