Building food resilience

When it comes to food, the role we are usually given as individuals is of the consumer, choosing between products and using our wallets to vote on where and how our food is produced and processed. However, this story about ourselves and our agency in shaping this food system is, at best, incomplete.

Food citizenship is based on three key principles:


We are naturally disposed to care, and we need a deeper sense of purpose in our lives.


We are naturally disposed to care, and we need a deeper sense of purpose in our lives.


We need the support of a community to thrive.

After spending two years (2018-2019) learning about what food citizenship looks like in practice across the UK food and farming sector, the Food Ethics Council is using this framework to explore what it means in the context of household food insecurity. There is no place where the consumer story fails more than when people can’t afford good food, i.e. nutritious, sustainable and culturally appropriate food. We recognise that having enough money in your pocket is vitally important. 

In addition to this though, food citizenship allows us to reframe poverty to disempowerment, expanding the debate beyond simply an economic one, and shedding light on the multiple ways in which resilience – both for individuals and for communities, can be re-built and nurtured.

As we collectively try and tackle household food insecurity, we experience the ongoing tension between the immediate need for food, and the need for a long-term resilience strategy. While some of us are under great pressures to deliver food to those in need – even more so now in light of COVID-19, others can come together to brainstorm what this long-term strategy could look like in the UK.

Can we ease the pressures our colleagues face, and eventually remove the need for emergency food aid alltogether?

At the Food Ethics Council, we are starting a process to co-develop this long-term strategy and develop a framework to support community (food) resilience. We invite anyone who is also facing the same questions and challenges to join our conversations, online , using the food citizenship newsletter as a platform to showcase your approach and insights, or directly via email.