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Another impactful year for our grantees - here's what they got up to

Please, join us and be inspired as we wrap up another year of excellent and impactful work by the Sustain grantees. 

Beetroot. Credit: Pexels

Beetroot. Credit: Pexels

As we wrap up our second year of distributing small grants to local groups working on the food/climate/nature nexus, we wanted to take a little time to celebrate the amazing work of our grantees! In 2023, we focused our funding where we thought it would make the difference: sustainable food pricing; procurement; planning and the pollution of rivers; food justice; and climate friendly advertising.  

Here’s a taste of some of that excellent work:  


We wanted to explore whether you can nudge people in the direction of healthier, planet-friendly food if it is priced in a way that reflects its environmental impact and comes with carbon transparency. We funded the Cherwell Collective in Oxford to expand on some of the pricing work they were already doing in their cafe – where they factor the true cost of food into their menu. They do this by making high-emissions menu items more expensive. Cherwell ran a Carbon Cost of Food Week across 8 businesses and university colleges in Oxford. It was a chomping success - orders of plant-based options increased by 20% and thousands of people were served with menus that outlined the true cost of their food for nature and the climate.  

We also funded County Durham Council to do some exciting work alongside MyEmissions to carbon rate the menus of various large organisations in their area, including Durham University and a large NHS trust. The organisations’ menus were assessed for their carbon intensity, allowing them to identify effective routes for creating a more sustainable menu. We are really excited to see this work come to fruition.  



Procurement is an amazing tool for councils to support good, green, local farming. We supported projects from across the UK to engage with their councils to take a more proactive and positive approach to buying food. One of these groups was Sustainable Food Cornwall. Sustainable Food Cornwall advocates for procurement that is good for Cornwall and its farmers. A big part of the effort that we funded was to forge strong relationships with councillors and council officers to ensure that a council motion in favour of local food procurement is aligned with the needs of farmers, people and planet.   

We also supported London Borough of Barking and Dagenham to run a local engagement campaign to promote a sustainable local caterer, BD Together. One of the issues with our food system currently is that many schools and councils are wrapped up in contracts with caterers that don’t care about their workers or the planet. BD Together is a living wage employer that sources local food for its menus where possible. Cutting out the middleperson by using council-owned catering companies is a great way to generate money for the local area that would otherwise be siphoned off as private profits.  


Planning and tackling river pollution

It’s no secret that water companies have been treating our precious waterways like an open sewer. What many people don’t know is that intensive agriculture is the leading cause of river pollution in the UK, with just ten meat companies producing almost double the faecal waste of the ten largest cities in the UK. This is washing into our rivers, causing eutrophication and other nasty effects that are bad for wildlife. We supported a couple of groups to tackle what we think is one of the biggest environmental disasters in the UK right now.  

Save the Wye and Herefordshire Food Alliance are based in the heartland of intensive chicken farming, the Wye Valley. We supported them to create strong cross-sectoral alliances to challenge the grip of the local chicken industry, which is headed by Avara Foods. As well as tackling the problem, our grantees championed local agroecological farming. They supported their complex campaign objectives with network-building, publishing incisive and evidence-based briefings and putting pressure on Avara’s biggest customer, Tesco.  

To support this action-orientated work, we issued a grant to the Urban Agricultural Consortium to do reimagining of how we can use planning to transform peri-urban land to work for urban, peri-urban and rural communities. You can see more here.   

Food justice and solidarity  

Food justice and solidarity in the food movement is so important as big corporations seek to squeeze even more out of farmers. Squeezing farmers with low food prices has a knock-on effect – it puts pressure on the wages and working conditions of workers throughout the food system. This is why we were so excited to offer SALT (Solidarity Across Land Trades) a grant to set up a first-of-its-kind trade union for workers across all land-based trades. 2023 was a big year for trade unions and we were so excited to play a small part in supporting that movement.

Food justice is also about inclusion and outreach to marginalised communities. It is about improving access to healthy food and creating new, diverse communities through food and food culture. We supported the Glasgow Community Food Network to write the Pumpkin Story. The Pumpkin Story was a story co-created with African communities in Glasgow. It used African storytelling techniques to illustrate the importance of food climate justice issues. During the research period, marginalised communities were engaged in discussions around food justice.   

Climate-friendly advertising 

Advertising shapes our inner and outer world. It is plastered on almost every available surface, pumps out of our radios and interrupts our favourite television programmes. It is ubiquitous and influential. As well as effectively polluting our lives with useless information, advertising is normalising mass consumption of mass-produced meat and dairy, which we know is driving the climate crisis and killing wildlife. We supported the London Borough of Newham to research the potential impacts and costs of a climate-friendly food advertising policy. If implemented, such a policy would restrict advertising for the most climate-damaging food products.  

We hope that this celebration of all our wonderful grantees has given you a taste of the amazing UK projects that are tackling issues in our food system. We really believe in the power of local action, and we think that the successes and learnings from our grantees demonstrate that the potential for impact is huge. We will be distributing more small grants over the next couple of years, so keep an eye out!  

Published Thursday 20 June 2024

Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.

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Sam Hayward
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