ONE MILLION pounds is to be invested in the UK’s first ‘Sustainable Food Cities’ programme to use good food to address some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems including obesity, food poverty and climate change. The programme aims to transform access to local, affordable and sustainable food for people across the country within 500 metres of where they live.
Inspired by the pioneering efforts of places like Brighton, Bristol, London and Plymouth, 25 UK cities are the founding members of the Sustainable Food Cities Network led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain and funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Six cities (yet to be chosen) will become inspirational examples of what cities and towns can do to transform their food culture. More than 100 urban areas across the UK are expected to join the network by the end of the three-year programme.
Speaking about the project, Tom Andrews, Soil Association programme manager of Sustainable Food Cities said; “The Sustainable Food Cities programme is about using food to improve people’s health and wellbeing, creating new businesses and jobs and reducing our impact on the environment. Food is not only at the heart of some of today’s greatest challenges but is also a vital part of the solution. The Sustainable Food Cities network will create cities where every school, hospital, restaurant and workplace canteen serve only healthy and sustainable meals; where everyone has access to affordable fresh, seasonal, local and sustainably produced food no matter where they live; and where people of all ages and backgrounds have opportunities to learn about, grow and cook food. It is about creating cities where good food is visible and celebrated in every corner and where people’s right to eat healthy and sustainable food is embedded into every relevant policy and strategy.”
The Sustainable Food Cities Network is an alliance of public, private and third sector organisations using food as a vehicle for driving positive changes. The Network helps people and places to share challenges, explore practical solutions and develop best practice in all aspects of sustainable food.
Ben Reynolds, Network Director at Sustain said: “With more than eighty per cent of us now living in urban areas, people in towns and cities can have a huge impact on our food system. What we grow, buy, cook or throw away can not only improve the health and well-being of our families, but also protect our countryside, wildlife and precious marine life, and improve the livelihoods of people on our doorstep and millions of miles away. The Sustainable Food Cities programme will help local communities to make that happen.”
Clare Devereux, Director at Food Matters said: “Our experience in Brighton and Hove has shown just what can be achieved if you get the right individuals and organisations together to develop a common vision of how they want to change their food system and then support them in turning that vision into reality. For many years, Brighton and Hove has been ahead of the game, but it is amazing how quickly and enthusiastically other towns and cities are now adopting similar approaches and starting to catch up.”