Community food work supporting mental health and wellbeing

Second Helpings

A CFHS national learning exchange on food, mental health and wellbeing to be held on Wednesday March 5, 10.00 – 3.45 at Discovery Point in Dundee.

Plans are underway for this national learning exchange on community food work and how it can support mental health and wellbeing. It will be an opportunity catch up on progress since our last event, Mind the Menu in 2012, specifically work on self- evaluation and evidence of impact. There will be plenty of time to share your ideas and meet other organisations involved in similar work in different parts of Scotland.

The event is free and the programme is now available.

You can book your place at 

For further details contact

Examining the evidence

CFHS has commissioned SCPHRP (Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy) at Edinburgh University to undertake an analysis of the learning from the work on evaluation that we have supported over the last year. The study will look at the reports on the self-evaluation work undertaken by participants on the Building Evidence of Impact programme together with the material generated by the evaluation of the CHANGES Eat Well – Stay Active programme.

The brief is to look at the range of outcomes that the evaluations report, what these tell us about the impact of community based food work on mental health and wellbeing and the learning we can draw form this for practioners policy makers and the wider academic community. The research will be taking place between January and March 2014.  For further information,

A rich picture

Participants from the Building Evidence of Impact programme met in Edinburgh on 4 July 2013 to share learning from their ongoing work on self-evaluation.

Group members described the work they had been doing and the different tools and techniques used.  They also looked at what they need to help them fly as they take their work forward and who needs to be on board to ensure their work has impact.  They also worked with the BLERT framework – which tests evidence to ensure that it is believable, legitimate, enough, relevant and transparent.

Almost all of the group members have now completed reports on their self-evaluation work. Together they provide a rich picture of the range of community based activity around food and the role it can play in positive mental health and wellbeing.

CFHS is now commissioning a researcher to look at all the reports and carry out an analysis of learning and evidence from the programme.  This will inform a further networking event for community based organisations working on food, mental health and wellbeing in spring 2014.

The Building Evidence of Impact programme  operated in 2012-13 and was designed to help community organisations collect evidence of the impact of their work around food, mental health and wellbeing. Also to contribute to the wider evidence base around the role that food plays in positive mental health and wellbeing. 

The package consisted of:  

  • Four days fully funded input from experts in the field
  • Ongoing support from CFHS over 12 months to implement learning within organisations. This includes a small amount of funding to cover the costs of carrying out a piece of evaluation.
  • All training fees, venue costs and a contribution to reasonable travel costs if required. 

For more details on the programme, contact Sue.

Evaluation of CHANGES Eat Well – Stay Active course

CFHS has provided some funding to CHANGES community health project in Musselburgh to carry out an evaluation of its Eat Well – Stay Active course. The aim of the course is to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of people living in East Lothian. It is a six week course that consists of five weekly two hour sessions and a sixth session after a five week break. The sessions include some light physical activity, learning about a healthy diet, and some basic cooking. The programme has been running since 2010.

The evaluation, which is being carried out in conjunction with the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP), is a retrospective one that invites all the participants from courses to date to take part. The aim is to see if the course has achieved its outcomes in the short and long term.

The objectives for the evaluation are to:
– determine which outcomes the course appears to have an effect on and whether short term effects are sustained in the longer term;
– explore and gain an understanding of the mechanisms of change as a result of the course. For example, if people are buying healthier food, was it as a direct result of the course, because they found it that it was cheaper, or for reasons unrelated to the course;
– explore the parts of the course that people enjoyed and found useful, and the parts that they found unhelpful; and
– explore any unintended consequences (positive and negative) of taking part in the course.

Mind the Menu

This  event for community organisations working with food in the field of mental health and wellbeing took place on Wednesday June 6 at Discovery Point in Dundee.

Sixty people from a range of organisations attended the day. Simon Bradstreet from Scottish Recovery Network and Emma Lyon from NHS Health Scotland provided the policy context for the day. Their presentations are available here.

Simon Bradstreet presentation [PowerPoint, 3.5Mb]

A Mental Health Strategy for Scotland 2012-2015 (Emma Lyon) [PowerPoint, 1Mb]

Workshops were provided by Edinburgh Food and Health Training hub, Trellis, Glasgow Association for Mental Health, Augment, The Walled Garden and Wisecraft and Dundee Healthy Living Initiative.

The day was a good opportunity for people working on food and mental health and wellbeing to meet, share information and resources.

A full report on the day is now available. 

Previous work on food, mental health and wellbeing

CFHS and the Scottish Development Centre for Mental Health have produced a joint bulletin on the links between food, mental health and wellbeing. The bulletin includes a look at current literature on the topic, together with five case studies of work in different parts of the country.

The organisations that provided case studies are Bridging the Gap in Glasgow, Dundee Healthy Living Initiative, Stepping Out in North Berwick, Glasgow Association for Mental Health and NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

In 2009, CFHS provided funding to community based mental health organisations to provide training in food, nutrition and health has now been evaluated. A report on the outcomes [PDF, 111kb] is now available.


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