We chatted to one of our new Council members, Steph Ellis, to find out a little more about her current involvement in food systems change.

What drew you to the food and farming space?

I’ve always worked with people in communities. In 2010, Oxfam started a project connecting their Sustainable Livelihoods work with the Trussell Trust and FareShare which I was involved in. As one of the first elements of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, food is essential for anyone to thrive. So, it’s really been a continuation of the work I’ve always been involved with – but with a focus on food. As time has gone on I’ve become more passionate about how everyone can have access to affordable food, consistently and dependably in order to thrive. Or, to flip the issue on its head, I’ve become increasingly engaged in the negative impact that a lack of access to affordable and healthy food has on all areas of people’s lives. I completely agree with the vision of the Food Ethics Council – that we can’t just focus on the symptoms of this issue, and we need to look at root causes and develop long-term solutions to create lasting change.

What are you fighting for the most at the moment?

I’m fighting for fair access to affordable, healthy and sustainable food across all of West Cheshire. I’m fighting for people to be able to eat well, every day. Specifically this means I’m leading a local food partnership and the development of a ‘good food movement’. I am involved in various initiatives with a wide range of partners to make sure that people have the benefits they are entitled to, to advocate for a cash-first approach to emergency food aid, and to work with communities to increase the physical access to affordable food. Examples of some of the projects I am working on at the moment are increasing the uptake of healthy start vouchers, supporting the development of fruit and veg on a bike and mobile pantries, supporting groups to make meals together, setting up cooking clubs, and creating a local growing food network – a space to share food, skills and land.

What are you hopeful and excited about this year? 

I’m hopeful about bringing a whole system food approach to local projects across West Cheshire, and about extending the community food network to include more farmers, growers and producers.