The Food System Strategy 2017-24 vision is to create a sustainable, just and vibrant food system. Council is committed to working with our community to make nutritious food socially and economically accessible to all. Community food hubs are an emerging model which can provide an inclusive and supportive setting for people to access nutritious food, with a particular focus on people lacking food security.
Council commissioned a study in 2020 on the feasibility of establishing a community food hub in the north of Merri-bek which has some of the least food secure communities in the municipality. The Community Food Hub feasibility outcomes and recommendations were presented and adopted at the Council meeting in May 2021
In line with a Collective Impact approach, Council’s role in the implementation of a community food hub is partner, facilitator and investor. The focus is on creating and sustaining discreet but interlinked / overlapping work areas or stages to enable community stakeholders to lead implementation of the Community Food Hub project.
The 4 stages of the project:
1. Establish a Collective Impact Approach
- Create a Food Leadership Action Group (FLAG) to lead the project
- Refine and implement a Collective Impact Measurement Framework
- Disperse $40,000 funding to on-the-ground activities that deliver maximum impact to build the case for the next steps of a Community Food Hub.
2. Support two (or more) Community Food Hubs to increase their scale and sustainability
- Invest in the proven public facing (front-end) premises
- Support innovation, prototyping and ‘lean experiments’ to evolve / adapt Food Hub model
- Develop business case for logistics hub (back-end support for front end premises
3. Establish a Logistics Hub
- Develop a collaborative proposal for a (back-end) Logistics Hub in the north of Merri-bek to overcome logistics constraints (storage, refrigeration, vehicle costs) of community and micro food hubs
4. Facilitate access to resources and infrastructure
- Open up facilities and assets to underpin a rapid increase in community food activities.
- Establish a community food enterprise innovation program to test and surface early-stage ideas and people with potential to support food security outcomes.
Between January and March 2020 we asked our community what a Community Food Hub in Merri-bek might look like and where it could be located.
We hosted 5 interactive co-design workshops where people contributed ideas to help shape a vision and inform a concept design for a community food hub in the north. We also asked our community to provide us with feedback and ideas by completing an online survey. All up over 75 residents and members of local food groups, including over 27 self-identified key stakeholders contributed their ideas and feedback
Modelling of Food Hub concepts was paused in May while stakeholders involved in the Community Food Hub Feasibility study responded to the increased and urgent need in the community for access to fresh food brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. They mobilised resources and volunteers and worked together to move and supply food to feed their community to respond to this urgent need.
An accelerated testing ground for rapid Community Food Hub prototyping / experiments was created, which clearly demonstrated the understanding, leadership and commitment these groups have for addressing food security in socially inclusive ways:
- Culturally appropriate and nutritious
- Provided in a safe, trusted and supportive environment
- Provided in ways that overcome the stigma of accessing food relief
- Provides pathways for people to regain agency over their access to food.
To continue this work, these leaders need reliable and ongoing funding streams to invest in the infrastructure and resourcing required to support food justice in the north of Merri-bek.
The feasibility study report (released 30 October 2020) includes outcomes and reflections from both pre-pandemic community consultations and the action engagement process undertaken by the project stakeholders during COVID-19
It recommends firstly establishing a collective impact approach by engaging a specialist to provide the backbone support for a Food Leadership Action Group (FLAG), and developing a Collective Impact Shared Measurement Framework. This provides the foundation and resources to consolidate each phase of the project and identify sources of funding which may come from a mixture of local and state government and philanthropic sources. The feasibility study identified the need for both front end (public facing) hubs and a back-end logistics hub as part of the model, which would be phased in over 5 or more years.