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Sustain / Food Access Network / North East Food Access Forum

NE Food Access Forum, January 2008

Scotswood Community Garden


Sarah Cannon, (Food Access Network - Sustain); Danny Connolly, (Tyneside Cyrenians); Anna Corbitt, (Food for Life Partnership); Nicola Cowell, (Newcastle Healthy City Project); Paul Flynn, (Food for Life Partnership); Mick Marston, (Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens); Kate Snowball, (Food & Nutrition Project); David Stobbs, (Newcastle Health Improvement Unit); Lisa Welch, (Sunderland Fareshare), Rebecca Warren, (Groundworks W. Durham); Nigel Wild, (Scotswood Community Gardens)

Apologies: Yolande Causebrook, (Newcastle University), Stephen Comber, (North East Grazing Project, Co Durham), Kathryn Errington, (County Durham PCT), Wendy Hicks, (Specialist Weight Management Service), Moira Hill, (Newcastle Nutrition), Matthew Hopper, (Teams & Bensham Community Care Food Co-op), Julie Kadleck (Wansbeck Real Food), Amelia Lake (Human Nutrition Research Centre University of Newcastle), Roselle Oberholzer, (Children & Obesity Manager), Michelle Panchen, (County Durham PCT), Danny Ruta, (Public Health Newcastle PCT), Angela Wallis, (Health Improvement Officer, Newcastle City Council), Donna Thompson (County Durham PCT), Claudia Venosa,

This meeting was preceded by home-cooked lunch and tour of Scotswood Community Gardens. Thanks go to Nigel Wild for providing the lunch and hosting the meeting. 

Welcome and introductions

Sarah welcomed all present, thanked everyone for coming along, and there was a round of introductions.

Notes from the previous meeting:

Future of the Forum

Sarah had drafted a ‘future of the forum’ document, with the aims and objectives of the network, which had been collated from the input of network members. Those present discussed the document, noting the need to avoid duplicating the work of other networks or organisations.  Offering training and support to volunteers was given as an example of work already being done.

It was noted that the network is unique in the region for its focus on food poverty and food access, which is, currently lacking. It also allows those working ‘on the ground’ to network and collaborate across the region. Other regional food networks, such as The North East School Food Network, have a different remit, though it was agreed that collaboration with these other networks would be encouraged where appropriate.

Because the group did not see itself as an active campaigning group, it was suggested that the descriptive word ‘campaign’ might be removed from the document wording. The group would instead respond to local needs as they arose.

It was agreed that the network should not be Tyneside-centric, and would meet in different parts of the region and encourage new members from all localities. It was further agreed that a current priority for the network was to organise its member’s contacts database, which would ideally be collated and housed on the Sustain website. Those present also agreed to try using a network e-group (such as Yahoo Groups), to communicate between meetings.

In relation to existing database resources, it was noted by Nicola Cowell that the Newcastle Healthy City Project currently has an online database of community food projects in the Newcastle area. Their website was in development at the time of the meeting. It was further noted by Sarah that The Food Access Network has an on-line database of community food projects throughout the UK, searchable by region.

It was agreed that the ‘future of the forum’ document should be a work in progress and Sarah agreed to redraft to reflect the discussions and to circulate a new version before the next meeting for final comment.

‘Better Health Fairer Health’

Sarah reported to those present that Sustain had submitted a response, on behalf of the Food Access Network and the North East Food Access Forum, to the consultation on the public health strategy for the North East – ‘Better Health Fairer Health’. It was noted that the strategy was due to be published soon and it was agreed that details would be circulated with the minutes of the meeting.

Paul Flynn, Food for Life Partnership

Anna and Paul described the work they are doing in the region on food and health through the lottery-funded Food for Life partnership.  They are currently working with six pilot schools, and planning in the next phase to work with more schools in the area. Cooking, growing, visiting farms and improving procurement were the main strands of their work, and this links to the national Healthy Schools agenda. Among other things, Food for Life sets up food and health groups in each school, developing action plans appropriate to that school, and increasing the capacity of the school to be sustainable beyond the funding from Food for Life (which ends in 2011). The biggest challenges so far have been lack of time, cultural differences, and child protection issues.

Nigel Wild, Scotswood Community Gardens

As noted above, before the meeting started, there was a delicious lunch and a tour round the gardens  At this point in the meeting Nigel gave some more details about the activities of Scotswood Community Gardens. Nigel would welcome ideas for developing the garden, especially being used more by schools, perhaps through the Food for Life partnership. It was agreed that using the gardens as a place for training teachers and parents would be ideal, and might help to stimulate ideas amongst teachers about how to develop land and gardens at their schools for growing food.

News and views

  • Nicola reported that Deaflink, with Neighbourhood Renewal Fund funding, was in the process of producing a report and a DVD addressing issues around healthy eating and food access for the deaf community. The project was launching on 6th March at an NRF regeneration festival in Newcastle. Nicola suggested, if the network wished, that the researcher for the project, Verity Joyce, could come and present at the next North East Food Access Meeting.
  • The Department of Health would be conducting its voluntary and community sector consultation event for the North East region on 7th February.
  • Voluntary Organisations Network North East (VONNE) (in conjunction with Public Health North East) was reviewing the Third Sector’s involvement in services and activities relating to childhood obesity and weight management. The findings from this review would inform future commissioning arrangements for the design and implementation  of obesity care.

Food Access Network: The Food Access Network (FAN-UK) was formerly the Food Poverty project, and is now superseded by the Local Action on Food Network. These archive pages give background information on the activities of FAN-UK, which worked to tackle diet-related ill health amongst the UKs most disadvantaged communities.

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