The Bishop and Archbishop of Liverpool have become the first city leaders to issue public pledges in support of a radical new strategy to tackle the ‘burning injustice’ of food poverty and create ‘a city where everyone can eat good food’.

Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes and Archbishop of Liverpool Malcolm McMahon and have each released a video pledge outlining how they will support the Good Food Plan, ahead of a pledge evening in the Metropolitan Cathedral, from 7pm-8.30pm on November 10.

The event is open to everyone from across the life of the city including businesses, church, community and charity leaders, residents of all ages, employers, workers, volunteers, and anyone interested in learning how to join the #goodfoodliverpool movement.

It is hoped the Bishop and Archbishop’s words will pave the way for others to follow suit, with opportunities to make individual, workplace, community or organisational pledges both on the night and afterwards.

Pledge examples include promising to signpost people to where they can access good food, commit to paying all employees a real living wage, start up a new sustainable food business or project, take part in food insecurity screening, volunteer, share resources, or simply start conversations in your community.

In his video Bishop Paul, already a vocal champion of the Real Living Wage and the Right to Food campaign, highlights the ‘burning injustice’ of hunger in the city.

He says: “As Christians, we believe food is a gift given from God to all human beings, not just to some. That one in every three adults in Liverpool are food insecure – worrying about where they will get enough food to feed their families, skipping meals, and at times going hungry – is a burning injustice. We cannot stand by and let this happen.

“As a diocese – with a church on the doorstep of every community- and as an employer, we have a part to play. We will continue to speak out against the root causes of poverty which prevent everyone being able to access good food.”

Bishop Paul pledges to support the workforce and parishes in the Diocese of Liverpool to take part in the Good Food Plan’s food insecurity screening programme for organisations, to help find out more about the scale and nature of need in the city.

Urging people to join the #goodfoodliverpool movement, he says: “Friends, when we stand alone this task of tackling injustice may seem too large, but each of us have gifts and talents to bring; when we work together we can bring about real change.”

Liverpool is home to three of England’s ten most economically deprived food deserts, 32% of adults in the city are food insecure, only 12% of children aged 11 to 18 eat their five-a-day, and a survey of menus at 26% of nurseries in Liverpool found them all to be deficient in energy and nutrients.

Speakers at the pledge event will include Trussell Trust Chief Executive Emma Revie, MP Ian Byrne, and Melissa Campbell, Consultant in Public Health at Liverpool City Council.

They will set out how the Good Food Plan is a five-phase strategy, which hinges on empowering people to work collaboratively to create systemic change.

Co-ordinated by charitable food alliance Feeding Liverpool with backing from Liverpool City Council and a dozen other partners in the city’s Food Insecurity Task Force including the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services (LCVS), St Andrew’s Community Network, Torus Housing, and FareShare, it is initially focused on tackling the immediate problems of acute hunger and chronic food insecurity.

Working with a growing number of stakeholders across the city, the Good Food Plan will also focus on improving access to good food, enabling active citizenship, influencing policy, reducing food waste and environmental impact, and establishing sustainable food systems.

In his video pledge, Archbishop Malcolm describes it as a ‘tragedy’ that such an initiative is needed, and pledges a £5,000 donation from the Archdiocese’s charitable funds to support the work of Feeding Liverpool and the Good Food Plan.

He highlights the commitment of the Archdiocese to supporting the Good Food Plan in offering the Metropolitan Cathedral to host the pledge event and providing temporary office accommodation to the Feeding Liverpool team.

He says: “Many of our Catholic parishes and agencies already support food banks, food pantries and other local actions to relieve and prevent food insecurity and many of our Catholic schools regularly provide good food to children who would otherwise be hungry and ensure that all our children learn how to grow and cook healthy food.

“The Archdiocese, along with our ecumenical partners, has supported Feeding Liverpool since 2014, at its inception, and as a further sign of our commitment, we will contribute an additional sum of £5,000 from our charitable funds to enable Feeding Liverpool’s work of co-ordinating the Good Food Plan.

“It is a tragedy that such an initiative is needed in a wealthy country like ours, but as long as our sisters and brothers struggle under the burden of food insecurity and other forms of poverty, we will work with all people of goodwill to enable them to live with the dignity that is the right of every human being.”

The pledge event is being co-hosted by Feeding Liverpool at the Metropolitan Cathedral, with support from Liverpool Cathedral and social justice charity Together Liverpool, and compère on the night will be BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Paul Beesley.

Dr Naomi Maynard, Good Food Programme Director, Feeding Liverpool said: “This event is for everyone. It marks a key moment for our city, where words and ideas begin to be turned into practical actions.

“We invite you to join us, come along to find out more about how you can play a part creating a city where everyone can eat good food.”

MP Ian Byrne, advocate for Good Food Plan and founder of the Fans Supporting Foodbanks; Right to Food Campaign, said: “Everyone should have the right to good food. Liverpool’s Good Food Plan is an important step in the right direction towards making this true for our city, but we need everyone in our community to come together in collective solidarity to make this possible.”

Together Liverpool chair Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon is Director of Social Justice for the Diocese of Liverpool, Canon Chancellor at Liverpool Cathedral and chair of Liverpool Cathedral’s emergency food charity Micah Liverpool.

Canon Ellen said: “We all want to live in a city where everyone can eat sustainable, affordable, good food. But we cannot achieve this alone, each of us has a role to play in making this vision a reality.

“This is the beginning of a journey for us in Liverpool and we encourage everyone to join the conversation and help explore what we can achieve together.”

Deputy Mayor Councillor Jane Corbett said: “Liverpool’s Good Food Plan is so important especially at the moment, with food poverty and food insecurity rising so fast now.

“This is a plan that puts in place linking all of the people together and all the community groups together, that have been working so hard down the years and particularly since the pandemic, in ensuring that people have access to good, nutritious food. We’ll be looking at where the gaps are across the city, we’ll be working with people, not at them.

“There’s a lot of people involved in this right across the city, in lots of community groups, voluntary organisations and faith groups, and it links then directly up with Professor Michael Marmot’s Fair Society, Healthy Lives which says everybody should have a healthy standard of living.”

Melisa Campbell, Consultant in Public Health at Liverpool City Council and co-chair of Liverpool’s Food Insecurity Task Force said: “The relationship between food insecurity and health is clear.

“In order to make budgets stretch, people are forced to purchase food items that are cheap, often processed and lacking in nutrition in order to put a meal on the table. This is resulting in poorer health for many families and exacerbates existing medical conditions.”

Find out more about the Good Food Plan and sign up for updates here:

Follow @GoodFoodLiverpool Instagram and Facebook and @GoodFoodLpool on Twitter, and use #GoodFoodLiverpool to join the conversation.

Sign up for the pledge event here: Liverpool's Good Food Plan Pledge Evening Tickets, Wed 10 Nov 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite