What if…? Imagining our healthier food futures

What if… all the chicken shops near our schools had to pull down their shutters while pupils were passing by, so that children weren’t tempted to eat junk food? Or, even better, what if instead of closing, the fast-food outlets handed out subsidised or free bowls of porridge with fruit at breakfast, and healthy snacks at home time, to help feed hungry children who didn’t have access to a nourishing meal at home?

What if… all the wasteland and empty buildings in the borough were cleaned up and turned into drop-in centres and community cafes, where we could meet our neighbours, swap skills and services, use shared ovens to bake bread, and set up after-school clubs where our children could learn to cook and eat together?

What if… our parks and streets were full of community plots to grow veg, so that we didn’t have to wait years for an allotment space; and what if we could help ourselves freely from the fruit trees that lined every avenue?

What if… we could access free help and advice on how to grow fruit, veg and herbs at home – even if the only space we had was a tiny balcony, windowsill or back yard?

And what if… our streets and houses were designed to be more social, safe and spacious, so that neighbours could chat to each other, exchange the surplus food we’d grown, even share the food we’d cooked?

These were just some of the brilliant ideas that participants on our Food Ambassadors programme came up with during a workshop session at Southwyck in May 2021. It was inspired by the ‘What if Lambeth’ project, led by Transition Town Brixton, which asks residents to imagine how their neighbourhoods could improve by 2030 to make them more sustainable, fairer, greener and desirable places to live.

If the ideas sound like impossible dreams, in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘It’s always seems impossible until it’s done’. In other words, we often don’t realise our own power to effect change, but with enough support, effort and imagination, we can achieve extraordinary things. Sometimes we just have to dream big, then get on and make it happen!

The session kicked off with a presentation by architecture student and HLP volunteer Gabrielle, who asked us to close our eyes and imagine a future where there was no longer any need for food banks, and healthy food was accessible to all. How would it work? What would it look like? And what part could we all play in making these dreams a reality?

By thinking of what they could contribute to their neighbourhoods, the Food Ambassadors were able to set personal goals for the short, medium and long-term, and imagine a better future for themselves and their communities.

The What if Lambeth project is looking for residents to share their vision of a cleaner, greener future in a video. If you’re interested in taking part, email whatIf@transitiontownbrixton.org


Email info@healthylivingplatform.org if you would like to be informed about future Food Ambassadors programmes.