UNSW Canberra researcher works with City of Sydney to combat food insecurity

  • UNSW Canberra researcher works with City of Sydney to combat food insecurity

UNSW Canberra researcher Luke Craven is working with FoodLab Sydney, an initiative aimed at combating food insecurity.

Dr Craven hopes the launch of FoodLab Sydney last week is just the beginning of a long and successful journey for the concept in Australia.

FoodLab was launched in Detroit in 2013 to combat the food insecurity issues stemming from the city’s economic decline. Members of the group work together to design and maintain systems that provide healthy and nutritious food to the community. 

Now, FoodLab Sydney will do the same - encouraging Sydney-siders to take action in their community by bringing forward their ideas for potential food businesses.

“FoodLab Sydney is an exciting new organisation that works to support local Sydney residents in bringing their idea for a food business or career in food to life in their own community,” explained Dr Craven, a Chief Investigator in the team behind the project.

“We’re also strengthening the social connection and community resilience amongst participants, which creates a broader sustainable food production ecosystem in urban spaces, linking producers and manufacturers with other players in the food industry.

For many people, the thought of a food crisis reaching Australia doesn’t even cross their minds, but Dr Craven said research conducted by the City of Sydney showed 8.4% of the population was food insecure, and up to 17,000 people in Sydney may be unable to afford enough food for themselves or their families. FoodLab aims to reduce this number by using mentors from the food industry across the city. They will also provide members with the advice and guidance needed to face the challenges associated with producing, marketing, and distribution.

While the Australian version will be mirroring its US counterpart in many ways, Dr Craven expects that the Sydney project will be special.

 “This approach is innovative and multi-pronged. We’re fostering the development of food-based start-up businesses to provide opportunities for people who are disadvantaged to develop a sustainable income stream.”

“The simplest way to solve one person’s food insecurity issue is to give them a good job. The simplest way to solve a community’s food insecurity issue is to create pathways for education and employment in that community through food.”