The Better Food Trader network is made up of retailers committed to a sustainable and resilient food system. This means a system that does not falter in moments of crisis, ensuring everyone can eat well, workers are paid fairly, all while looking after the planet we rely on to produce food.
This page aims to communicate how the Better Food Trader network is striving to secure a resilient food system during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supporting a more resilient food system
Covid-19 has reminded us all of what really matters. It has exposed deep structural weaknesses in the current UK food system, dominated by supermarkets whose business model is based not on seasonality, locality or nutrition, but on the profit-driven choices of large food corporations. This structure damages our communities, our planet and our farming, and now the fragility of the system is exposed.
We are modelling the change we want to see in the world. Our network, made up of community-led food retailers, is working to prove there is a better way.
To achieve this we are:
- Building a network of retailers guided by the Better Food Trader Principles committed to the environment, to fairness in the food system and to providing people with great local food.
- Working to make sure ethical retailers get the financial support they need in this extremely difficult time. For more information on this please see Funding for Better Food Trader organisations adapting to Covid-19. Also see Sustainable Food Places’ regular bulletin.
- Sharing intelligence from our network to help smaller retailers respond effectively to the challenges caused by the pandemic.
- Sharing stories of effective action at local level, showing the incredible work and care from community food groups across the UK, while also sharing partner learning about how we can support the people we rely on to feed the population.
- Utilising information from all our members to demonstrate our collective impact to customers, funders and policymakers to help drive change. For example, in this latest report, published on the Food Foundation’s website, the the Better Food Traders collective data showed smaller veg schemes were able to double in size to meet new demand during Covid-19, despite the government’s constant neglect. This demonstrates the resilience and flexibility of small scale social enterprises and farmers. The government can no longer justify not providing equal financial support to those farmers in terms of farm subsidies.
Fast transitions to support food supply
“There are some things we must do in emergency mode; and some that are about building the safe, fair, resilient and sustainable systems that we all need for the future.” - Sustain
In wake of Covid-19 the Better Food Traders have made a variety of fast changes to keep staff, volunteers and customers safe. Such as:
- All the retailers have undergone hygiene training and been taking extra precautions during packing and delivery operations including enforcing 2 metre distancing at drop off points. For more information on this, visit ‘Growing Communities Risk Assessment and hygiene procedures: Veg box scheme/Patchwork growing/Farmer’s Market/Better Food Shed.’
- Due to an overwhelming demand, many of the Better Food Traders have had to prioritise current customers and pause new orders. However many schemes are now open again for new customers and if they are not, waiting lists have been set up and in many schemes, priority is going to those in vulnerable households.
- Drivers are practicing contactless deliveries where direct delivery is taking place – leaving orders in safe places or on doorsteps rather than handing them over.
- Where collection points have had to be closed, other options have been opened for customers to ensure they get their food.
All these decisions were made based on the current guidelines from NHS England and the World Health Organisation. All the Better Food Traders will continue to review guidance and will keep making improvements as the situation evolves, to ensure that they are able to keep providing healthy, fresh, sustainably-produced food to their communities.