Veg Advocates Photo Exhibition
Identified and reported barriers
VAs overwhelmingly cited poverty/limited income in their communities as the overarching barrier to veg access. This, combined with the generally experienced convenience of unhealthy food versus the relative inconvenience of healthy foods, as well as the time and energy given to other perhaps more pressing priorities in lower-income households, was reported to lead to lower rates of veg access and consumption.
Other specific barriers included those at the household level (e.g., lack of sufficient knowledge and/or skills regarding meal planning and preparation) and at the immediate community-level (e.g., ubiquitous presence of unhealthy food advertising, or the lack of adequate public transportation options).
“The cost of fresh veg means that some individuals may not be able to purchase and prepare as many as they would like for themselves and their family. Some individuals may not know how to effectively plan meals for the week and spend unnecessarily on their weekly shop.”
– English VA.
“My neighbourhood sustains a total of 8 take-away food premises. This number has grown exponentially since the mid to late 1990’s, reflecting wider trends where convenience is favoured over home cooking… Standard take-away fare… with limited vegetable content in the main.”
– English VA.
“Without wheels we starve, mostly in the sense that without a car then access to veg is somewhat limited.”
– NI VA.
“What is it, and can I cook it?.”
– Welsh VA.
“When you enter a supermarket these kinds of deals always attract you to buy…”
– NI VA
Identified and reported facilitators
Facilitators to veg access included vegetable delivery services (e.g., CSAs), allotments and other community garden initiatives, and the diversity and reasonable low price of vegetables offered by local supermarkets.
“Food box delivered to door with fresh mixed, locally grown organic veg. Choice of veg not given, depends on what is available. Also provided are recipes with example meals that you can cook from the produce.”
– Welsh VA
“Price reductions on fresh produce, especially fruit and vegetables will encourage low-income individuals to purchase them; in addition to reducing food waste.
Initiatives that have been introduced, for example Aldi’s Super 6, Lidl’s Pick of the Week, and Tesco’s Fresh 5 enables individuals to try new vegetables and enhance their diet with the addition of more nutritious vegetables.”
– English VA
“Buying fruit and veg from the local food hub is affordable and saves produce from going to waste.”
– Scottish VA.
“I can say this picture is list of facilitators because of following reasons: It is easily available near to my house in any Tesco express also. Available enough quantity and fresh.”
– NI VA
“The Kids in the Kitchen programme at The Larder, Lancashire provides families with the opportunity to prepare and cook nutritious meals through the school holidays. The ingredients, recipe card and video tutorials are provided to help combat holiday hunger. It focuses on getting families cooking and eating together; alongside developing new skills and try new foods. The provision of fresh ingredients to families, alongside the online tutorials encourages them to cook their own meals using local produce.” - English VA
“Growing and sharing local food - EATS stands for Edible and Tasty Spaces and that is what our charity set out to create, public spaces with easily accessible fruit and vegetables. The community help by volunteering with us to grow the food and anyone can come and collect some of the harvested food (again pay as you feel) at the garden, orchard or our community hub. This gives the community a sense of ownership and a good source of seasonal fresh food in the centre of the town.” – Scottish VA
VAs identified potential solutions to overcome these barriers or promote identified facilitators; these included:
- Community-based initiatives to increase knowledge and skills related to vegetable cooking and household food planning.
- An increase in the promotion of veg in the community and in local stores through effective advertising initiatives.
- The implementation of community-wide health promotion campaigns (including other food-related initiatives, like CSAs).
- VAs also communicated the need to localise the food system and increase the amount of land for allotments.
In addition to specific VA recommended solutions, and in line with existing research, it was found that efforts to increase household income levels and purchasing power may go a long way to increasing veg access and consumption in communities across the UK, particularly for lower-income households.
A huge thank you to all participating Veg Advocates from Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland for their time and valuable insights!
And many thanks to The Centre for Food Policy (CFP) at City, University of London for facilitating the Veg Advocate Photo Exhibition. They are working with Peas Please to support the development and evaluation of the people's engagement workstream.