The Mayoral Election: Our good food vision
Ahead of May’s Mayoral Elections, London Food Link Coordinator (and ‘Eel Editor) Sarah Davenport outlines steps the next Mayor should take to ensure a healthy, sustainable and ethical food system for all Londoners.
There have been some fantastic good food initiatives in London since the 2016 elections. On your morning commute you’ll no longer be tempted by advertisements for fatty, salty and sugary snacks. Less children and young people are going hungry, thanks to Kitchen Social and if you happen upon City Hall on a weekday, you might find the London Food Board discussing important food issues.
Things have certainly moved forward, but is it enough? We are asking mayoral candidates to step up and put food issues on their agenda.
TIME FOR ACTION
We know that the capital has thousands of fantastic people and organisations working to change our diets for the better. Campaigns such as Peas Please and SUGAR SMART are working to get more veg on our plates and reduce the sugar in our meals. Yet, 65% of adults in London still eat three or less portions of fruit and veg a day and, even more troubling, 40% of children aged 10-11 are overweight or obese.
Water fountains could go a long way to reducing London’s sugar intake, but despite a great leap forward, the reality is they are still few and far between. Add to this years of council budget cuts, taking their toll on key services, like Meals on Wheels, and resulting in our vulnerable residents struggling to get the good food they need.
But London is abundant with potential; a thriving network of community gardens, hundreds of good food enterprises and acres of agricultural land on the urban fringe that could be put to good use. We have the ability to create more meaningful ‘good food’ employment, increase biodiversity and generate a huge harvest of local, accessible, healthy food — but how do we do it? To help the candidates get it right we have come up with a list of achievable actions we think they should focus on (see box).
TURNING THE TIDE
It is well within the next Mayor’s powers to take on these actions and more. Our current Mayor has shown leadership on issues like promotion of junk food, he’s set up a new Food Board, Obesity Task Force, published a Food Strategy and pledged to reduce the amount of meat served. Now we are calling for the next Mayor to go one step further; for example by swapping factory-farmed animal products for less and better meat and plant-based alternatives where they can. Or exploring a new ‘Children’s Right to Food Charter’ and what this could mean for London.
From policies that create good food environments, to funding impactful programmes, the new Mayor can and should use their role to put good food on the to-do-list. Our first challenge? Getting the next Mayor to prioritise these issues in their manifesto, so you all get the chance to vote for good food.
Sign up for London Food Link news, or even better become a supporter, to get behind our campaign and help make the difference. Go to the London Food Link website to find out more and read our Vote Good Food briefing.
8 KEY ASKS FOR THE NEW LONDON MAYOR
- Remove factory-farmed meat and dairy from TfL canteens
- Install a water fountain in every tube station
- Save London’s Meals on Wheels
- Champion 5 new farms on London’s urban fringe
- Ban junk food ads in London’s stadiums
- Ensure everyone has access to a community food garden
- Support fresh food market traders
- Commit to a new London Children’s Right to Food Charter