Community Food Award
About The Award
The Community Food Award (formerly called the Social Responsibility Award) was established by the Guild in 2015 and is given to an individual, business or other entity involved in food that, in the opinion of the Guild, is outstanding in the way that it embraces an ethos of social responsibility.
For example, the award might go to a community kitchen or garden, to a food education project, or to a food business that donates a portion of its profits back to the community. It could go to an ethical food entrepreneur, a chef or a retail business. It could go to a large-scale national project or a small project based in one community. The important considerations are that the project is well managed and transparent and that it has a positive relationship with the community in which it operates.
Unlike the Guild’s annual IFWG Food Awards (for which nominations come solely from Guild members), individuals, businesses and organisations can nominate themselves or others for this award.
Since 2018, the Community Food Award has been presented as part of the Guild’s Annual Food Awards event.
2023 Winner: Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams, established by the Cork branch of Down Syndrome Ireland, is a three-acre site supporting the learning needs of adults with Down Syndrome across the city and county of Cork using horticulture as a catalyst for learning and personal development. Read our profile of Field of Dreams here, as part of the Guild’s 2023 Food Awards coverage.
2022 Winner: Our Table
Our Table is a community-based, social enterprise that uses food as a way to connect, start a conversation and draw attention to the realities of those living in Direct Provision. Read our profile of Our Table here, as part of the Guild’s 2022 Food Awards coverage.
2021 Winner: The Green-Schools Food & Biodiversity Theme
Within the school system, we teach language with which to communicate and we teach maths with which to navigate, but we do not teach crucial skills associated with food and commensality. A two-year food education programme aims to change this for a portion of students throughout Ireland. Devised to teach children about food in an engaging and creative way, the programme was successfully piloted in eight primary schools and is now being expanded nationwide, with 45 schools joining this year and a further 65 joining next year.
The programme is wide-ranging, taking an expansive, hands-on approach to education, fostering inquisitiveness about where food comes from, how it is grown and how it affects all our lives. Green-Schools provide cooking kits to all the participating schools as well as the seeds for the garden, teaching resources and ongoing support from their staff. The cooking kit provides children with the equipment to practise skills during the cooking workshops such as peeling, grating, knife safety and different chopping techniques. Many chefs from around the country have also come on board and are helping reiterate the learning from the cooking workshops by doing their own cooking demonstrations with the children. The programme is a welcome addition to Ireland’s food education landscape.
For more on the Green Schools initiative, you’ll find a profile of the programme included in the Guild’s 2021 Food Awards e-zine.
2020 Winner: Falling Fruit Ireland
Falling Fruit Ireland was established to harvest the seasonal glut of local fruit found throughout the Dublin area and countrywide. Read our profile of Falling Fruit Ireland here, as part of the Guild’s 2020 Food Awards coverage.
2019 Winner: Cork Penny Dinners
Cork Penny Dinners was founded during famine times in the 1840s and is one of Cork’s oldest charitable organisations. Their core service is to offer a nourishing hot meal in a safe environment to all those in need. Currently they serve up to 2,000 freshly made meals per week compared to 150 or less per week before the recession.
They also provide food for homeless families in hotels and B&Bs. They also run five classes a week: the Cork Music Dojo, High Hopes Homeless Choir, the Food for Thought mental health initiative for students, a mindfulness and wellbeing class, and French classes. Cork Penny Dinners will soon have the opportunity to expand their services thanks to the generosity of fundraisers from Cork and beyond.
In the near future, service users will be able to benefit from a one-stop-shop in a new location in James Street where they can avail of educational opportunities; a full music programme run by voluntary tutors; a clinic operated on a rotating, voluntary basis by 52 local GPs; classes in sewing, cooking and repair; and assistance in everyday administrative tasks. Cork Penny Dinners is open seven days a week all year round, including Christmas Day.
There is always an open door and a warm welcome.
2018 Winner: Sligo Global Kitchen
Sligo Global Kitchen began in 2014 as a simple idea conceived by the team at The Model in Sligo: that people living locally in direct provision might appreciate the use of the arts centre’s industrial kitchen to cook and eat together, given that residents cannot cook their own food in direct provision.
Artist Anna Spearman approached Cameroonian Mabel Chah to liaise with other residents in direct provision. With funding from the Community Foundation of Ireland and Communities Integration Fund, they reached out to other groups of refugees, collaborating with the Syrian community in Ballaghaderreen for a meal celebrating Syrian, Zimbabwean and Nigerian cuisine. Over 400 people of at least 18 different nationalities attended that meal, 75 of them Syrian, including five Syrian cooks.
Sligo Global Kitchen now runs communal meals at least once a month, at which three courses are served buffet style with dishes from at least two different culinary cultures. Donations collected from the previous meals will support future events after the funding period finishes in the summer of 2018. The Irish Food Writers’ Guild commends the initiative as a proactive way of building links between cultures by facilitating people in coming together to cook, eat and celebrate each other’s food culture.
Overall Winner: Irish Seed Savers Association
The ethos of the Irish Seed Savers Association is simple but sound: working together to conserve Irish biodiversity. Founded in 1991 by Anita Hayes, work initially started on a small farm in Co. Carlow before moving to Scarriff in 1996. The aim of the Irish Seed Savers Association is to conserve and distribute wonderful rare and heritage varieties, as well as to encourage the skills of saving your own seed and empowering people to do this in their own gardens, small holdings or farms.
The Association’s Education Project was submitted for an IFWG Community Food Award; it aims to promote a greater awareness of agricultural biodiversity for children. The Education Project was created with the support of the Genetic Advisory Board of the Department of Agriculture and is a positive response to the new Social, Environmental and Scientific Education syllabus recently introduced to national schools. Children visiting the Association’s centre and participating in the Education Project are made aware of the importance of agricultural diversity, creating a more responsible upcoming generation who have the knowledge and skills to engage with and promote responsible practices.
Highly Commended: The Organic Centre
The Organic Centre was established in 1995 as a non profit-making company with charitable status. The centre is located on a 19-acre site in Rossinver, and operates from an award-winning, ecologically designed building with a grass roof. The aim of the centre is to provide training and education, information and demonstrations of organic gardening, growing and sustainable living. Developments at the Organic Centre include two demonstration gardens, nine polytunnels of protected cropping, a wetland sewage disposal system, compost display and an orchard with 50 varieties of apple. The Centre’s projects help anyone who wants to become involved to live better through sustainable gardening and good food.
The judges were particularly impressed with the pioneering work of the Organic Centre and the way in which it brings people together from both sides of the border to learn and garden together.
Commended: Loaf Catering
Loaf Catering is a corporate catering business and social enterprise delivering fresh food to homes and businesses in the greater Belfast area. Using local suppliers whenever possible, Loaf Catering is also an accredited training site, providing training and work experience placements for catering trainees with learning difficulties or autism. All profits go to the NOW Group to help support people with barriers to learning and employment join the workforce.
Loaf wants communities to be more connected with what they buy and eat and for every £1 invested in loaf, £8 is returned in social value. The judges were impressed with the strong, independent feedback they received about Loaf and felt it represented a model social enterprise that others could (and should) follow.
Commended: OURganic Gardens
OURganic Gardens is a network of community gardens in Donegal. Since its creation in 2013, this social enterprise, run by Joanne Butler, has enabled over 200 participants across ten community gardens to attend gardening classes in their local communities. It also hosts networking events that enable participants to share seeds, skills and stories.
OURganic Gardens has been instrumental in educating new and existing gardeners in how to embrace organic methods to cultivate their gardening practices. Joanne also runs several community gardens as well as a FETAC course in growing vegetables organically, empowering and connecting people across the county.
Commended: Cork Food Policy Council
The Cork Food Policy Council (CFPC) was formed to work towards the achievement of a fairer, healthier, more secure and sustainable food system within the city and throughout the region. The Council operates as a partnership between representatives of the community, food retail, farming, fishing, restaurant/catering, education, environmental and health sectors and local authorities.
The CFPC was commended for its Edible Greening Project, which was initiated to teach people how to grow food in up-cycled containers and to highlight three things: that anyone can grow their own food, that food is as beautiful as flowers for greening the city and that growing food in urban environments has multiple health and environmental benefits. This initiative has many positive impacts, encouraging community engagement, creating conversations around sustainable food, recovering the central place of plants in our diet and highlighting that everyone has a responsibility to connect with their food supply.
Overall Winner: Bia Food Initiative (BiaFi)
Bia Food Initiative (BiaFi) was set up in June 2012, with the Food Redistribution Centre opening in July 2014. BiaFi acts and raises awareness on the issue of surplus food as food waste and aims to alleviate food poverty in Ireland. It is a hugely ambitious nationwide initiative with a large distribution centre with refrigerated storage on an industrial estate in Little Island, Cork, and has already linked with most of the major multiples. They recently acquired and are opening distribution warehouses in Oranmore, Co. Galway, and in Tallaght.
BiaFi facilitates the transfer of surplus food from food-related businesses to charities. BiaFi provides a socially responsible, environmentally sensitive, business-friendly alternative to wasting good food.
The Guild were impressed by BiaFi on many levels but it was considered to be particularly worthy of the award because of the scale, scope and ambition of the venture, led by a team of people experienced in the world of Irish social action.
BiaFi, Unit 3, OC Commercial Park, Little Island, Co. Cork.
Hall of Fame Winner: Dublin Simon Community Soup Run
Dublin Simon Community’s Soup Run was considered by the judging panel to have contributed at such an outstanding level since it was established in 1970 that it was immediately entered into the IFWG Social Responsibility Award Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is an honour that recognises the longevity of an exceptional contribution to the community and will not necessarily be awarded on an annual basis.
Dublin Simon Community’s Soup Run consists of over 100 part-time volunteers who walk the streets in all weather offering soup, sandwiches, tea and a good chat to people who are homeless around the city.
In conjunction with the Rough Sleepers Team, the Soup Run volunteers conduct street searches for people sleeping rough, maintain contact with them and try to help them form links back into the community. The Soup Run goes out 365 nights of the year and is often the first point of contact for people who want to link into Simon’s range of services.
The Guild are delighted to honour all the volunteers involved and the management team at the Soup Run for the excellent and essential work that they do.
Dublin Simon Community, 1-2 Cope Street, Dublin 2.
Commended: Flanagan’s Field Community Garden
An urban eyesore in Rialto has been turned into Flanagan’s Field Community Garden, an exemplary community garden that houses Dublin’s first geodesic dome. The grow dome is an intensive year-round sustainable food producer, an exhibition space, a meeting and education area, and an iconic piece of art. The garden offers the space required to facilitate groups, encourage interaction and change social attitudes through horticulture.
The garden has fostered a sense of ownership in the community, which has brought with it a commitment to improve and engage. There is a communal growing area and individual cultivated plots, and the initiative has inspired local people to produce their own food.
A broad spectrum of groups converge in this green space, inspiring a local health food initiative, three primary schools, two homework clubs and a parent and toddler group to foster a love of gardening and embrace food production as part of the curriculum they deliver. The dome is capable of intensively producing food all year round and can create jobs, food and energy in a sustainable and self-sufficient manner.
This enterprise was considered to be a highly innovative approach to developing a food production initiative designed to support the local community and provide employment. The Guild was delighted to commend this exemplary community growing project in what is the International Year of Soil 2015.
Flanagan’s Field Community Garden, Reuben St, Dublin 8.
Commended: Healthy Food For All
Healthy Food for All (HFfA) is an all-island charity addressing food poverty by promoting access, availability and affordability of healthy food for low-income groups. With its focus on community and school food initiatives, it aims to alleviate food poverty by fostering positive changes in nutrition and the healthy eating behaviours of families and young people.
It also advocates for and supports the development of an improved school food framework and it promotes a greater understanding of food poverty across all aspects of public policy.
HFfA works to support low-income communities to develop food initiatives that can have a transformative effect on the lives, health and social participation of communities – for example, through projects that promote the learning of new skills around growing and eating healthy food.
The Guild welcome and congratulate the positive and important work being done by the charity to address the difficult challenges facing many people in accessing what should indeed be Healthy Food for All.
Healthy Food for All, 100 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7.