The team at Eden Project Communities is very keen to talk to members of the Sustainable Food Cities Network about the resources and support they can offer to get involved in the Big Lunch. It will take place this year on Sunday 18th June 2017.
They have experience in:
• The positive impacts on health and wellbeing, food insecurity and social cohesion – through The Big Lunch
• Supporting community food projects, and potential community leaders, through resources, training and regional and national events
• Connecting together individuals locally, regionally and nationally to share resources and make personal connections
The event can help you further your local food projects around food poverty, food surplus, food growing, community gardens, community food businesses and more.
The Big Lunch, for instance, can be a great way to engage different communities, with examples from within our network in care homes, housing associations, canal boat communities, interfaith communities and schools.
Some SFC areas use The Big Lunch events to demonstrate steps towards SFC Awards, e.g. Cardiff and Cambridge, specifically around raising public awareness of food waste and resilient close knit communities.
You can get in touch with Peter Lefort, Country Manager (England), plefort@EdenProject.com, 07967 638649
Below is more information including research into outcomes and some examples within the SFC Network already.
The Big Lunch
The idea, essentially, is communities coming together over food. It’s not particularly new, or complicated, but it works. From around 700,000 participants in its first year, Big Lunches across the UK now regularly bring together over 7,000,000 people, and in 2016 over 90,000 events were held.
The Big Lunch is purposely extremely low-threshold and accessible to all, there should be no barriers to involvement and no obstacles in the way of anyone who wants to attend.
In 2013, the Local Government Information Unit published a report on the first 3 years of the Big Lunch. The key findings included:
• 82 per cent of participants felt closer to their neighbours as a result of The Big Lunch
• 88 per cent of people met new people at the event
• 81 per cent thought the event had made a positive impact on their community (2009 – 11)
• 74 per cent of people feel a stronger sense of community (2012)
• 82 per cent of participants from 2009-2011 had actually kept in touch with people they had met at previous Lunches
The following key features also emerged from the report:
• The Big Lunch takes place in all types of communities: just as many Big Lunches take place in deprived postcodes as in more affluent ones.
• The Big Lunch has a positive impact on communities: people feel closer to their neighbours and find out more about community issues.
• The Big Lunch brings neighbours together: participants meet new and diverse people and new people participate in the Lunches each year.
• The Big Lunch has an on-going impact: relationships formed at Big Lunches endure over time and lead to further activities.
The starter pack for 2017 is available to order or download, both free, from: www.edenprojectcommunities.com/get-your-free-big-lunch-starter-pack
New research into community connections
Last month we announced our findings on the cost of disconnected communities. This looks into the cost of disconnected communities to the UK economy, and to various public services. It also highlights what people find valuable about being active members of their communities and neighbourhoods, and finds an average cost saved per person per year, if we were all to engage with community activities.
Examples in practice
While we fully support large-scale Big Lunches as great mass-engagement events, the ideal outcome is to encourage a host of smaller Big Lunches in streets and communities across a town, city or county. The Kirklees Food Programme, for instance, uses The Big Lunch as part of the strategy to shift local food culture, from cradle to grave, towards one that is sustainable and improves local health outcomes, the economy and environment.
We also support community leaders, both new and old, to take positive action where they live. Through our Community Camps (fully-funded residential weekends down at the Eden Project) and regional events, we support individuals to make things happen. A great example is Kay Johnson from Preston who works for The Larder, part of Sustainable Food Lancashire. Her experience at one of our camps was followed by Kay setting up The Feast For Peace.
Good Food in Greenwich have also been along to one of our regional events, which we are happy to host ourselves, run in partnership or support others to put on.