Food4families is a community food-growing project set up by World Education Berkshire RISC in 2009. Since then it has developed 20+ sites across Reading where young and old are encouraged to grow their own fresh fruit and veg. During 2018 1672 people got involved in at least one activity run by Food4families.
The ‘Way to Health’ research, conducted by WhitleyResearchers was commissioned by Food4families and aimed to investigate how three of its community food growing sites contributed to getting or keeping well. A total of 50 individuals were interviewed in June and July 2018 The views of site users and non-site users were recorded. The growing sites are located in Southcote, Whitley and Katesgrove. Additionally, the results of several focus groups and additional direct household interviews are featured in the recommendations.
The four activities that contributed most to wellness were healthy eating, exercise, getting out in nature and being part of a group. Average wellness for all persons interviewed was almost seven out of ten (ten being perfectly well).
Almost half of all those interviewed were currently or had been involved in Food4families sites. People who are or had been involved did not report significantly higher levels of health as those who were not part of the F4F programmes. However, this is not surprising since what is provided is for both the vulnerable and the more thriving sectors of the population.
The most frequently mentioned advantages of taking part in the F4F programme was the chance to meet up with other people, the opportunity to learn new things, getting a share of the produce and having family activities.
These findings form the core of the recommendations including the need to celebrate the growing season towards the end of the season with an event open to the wider community.You can read the report here.