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Sustain / Food Access Network / North East Food Access Forum

NE Food Access Forum, October 2007

Quaker Meeting House, Newcastle


Anthony Armstrong (Food Chain NE), Sarah Cannon (Sustain’s Food Access Network) Yolande Causebrook (Newcastle University), Umarah Choudhry (Newcastle City Council – Community Facilities), Stephen Comber (NE Grazing Project), Danny Connolly (Tyneside Cyrenians), Nicola Cowell (Newcastle Community Food Initiative), Paul Flynn (Soil Association), Geoff Graham (Gateshead PCT), Moira Hill (Newcastle Nutrition), Liz Hopper (Teams & Bensham Community Care Food Co-Op), Simon McCabe (Food Chain NE), Alex McGregor (Community Kitchen), Michael Marston (Soil Assocation/FCFCF), Darin Maudlin (Denton Young Peoples Project), Ruth Potts (Denton Young Peoples Project), Jamie Sadler (East End Community Health Project), David Stobbs (Newcastle Primary Care Trust), Cath Stoddart (Newcastle Healthy City Project), Laura Wallace (Kids Café), Ken Young (Wansbeck Real Food)  


Susan Bennett (Physical Activity Team Newcastle City Council), Helene Heath (Food in Schools Coordinator), Julie Kadleck (St Anthony’s School), Amelia Lake (Human Nutrition Research Centre University of Newcastle), Roselle Oberholzer (Public Health North East), Donna Thompson (County Durham PCT)

Welcome and introductions

Sarah thanked everyone for coming along and people introduced themselves to others in the group.

Presentation on the Food Access Network –UK (FAN)

Sarah Cannon summarised the background to the Food Access Network UK (FAN), a project of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. Sustain represents around 100 national public interest organisations, and other Sustain projects include the Children’s Food Campaign, Eat Somerset, Food and Mental Health, Good Food on the Public Plate, and London Food Link.

The Food Access Network – UK is a network of UK community food projects and their partners who are working to tackle the problems of food access. FAN currently has around 380 members, working to improve the nutrition, health and wellbeing of their local communities.  The benefits of FAN memberships include: the on-line public database, a quarterly newsletter, free places at national and regional events, and facilitation of regional networks like this!.

Sarah concluded by briefly outlining the UK Liaison programme, funded by the Food Standards Agency, which FAN has managed for the past two years.  Themed one-day events have been held throughout the UK for network members in partnership with Healthy Food for All - Ireland, Nutrition Network for Wales, and Community Food and Health (Scotland). One of these events took place in April this year in Newcastle at The Assembly rooms, and the next would be in Belfast on 8th November.  Information about these events, with downloadable summaries of presentations and workshops, can be found on the Sustain website at

Discussion on draft Regional Health and Well Being Strategy

The group discussed the ‘Better Health, Fairer Health’ public health document launched the previous day. The public health strategy’s long-term aim is make the North East region the healthiest in the country (within a generation) by linking national, regional and local policies. It proposes a range of activities to reduce health inequalities with chapters including smoking, physical activity, mental health, a ‘good death’ and diet and obesity. A final version of the strategy will be produced after public consultation over the next three months.

There was a feeling amongst many attendees that the proposed action on food and health was too focused on a clinical model, and excluded a more rounded approach to food and well-being, food culture, and food education. There were interesting proposals in the document for health trainees to be paid for by the NHS, although it was noted at the meeting that there is uncertainty about where these would be based. It was reported that there had been local media coverage of the event that morning, and that the Northern Echo had suggested the document was ‘moving in the right direction’. It was also reported that the Government would be referring to the development of the strategy, which will span twenty five years, in their future policies, meaning it has particular significance.  It was also noted that the North East procurement strategy needs to reflect the public health agenda. 

Sarah had brought along some copies of the Better Health, Fairer Health consultation documents, and further copies are available to download at: It was agreed that the North East Access Forum may want to submit a consultation response by the 31st December closing date.

Sarah mentioned the Quality of Food Strategy Consultation and Welsh Food Debate. The aim of the strategy is to improve nutritional health in Wales by raising the quality of food from farm to fork. This consultation is open until December 31st and may be of interest to NE forum network members as a reference document. Copies of the consultation can be found at

The North East Food Access Forum

Simon McCabe described the background to the previous meetings of the North East Food Access Forum which met for a few years until 2005. The main aim of the network was to promote a joined up approach to work in the food and health sector among all the disparate groups doing food access work, and also provide a vehicle to invite experts from other regions to give presentations. The attendees included Primary CareTrust professionals, community development workers, regional 5 a day staff and food access volunteers. Speakers had included Dr Martin Carraher, the Edinburgh Community Food Initiative and Somerset Food Links. The latter led to the development of the Food Chain NE Community Interest Company, but no network meetings had taken place recently. 

Sarah noted that this was very similar to the London Food Access Forum, which has been meeting since 2006. Meetings usually have one or two presentations from members on their current work or are based around a particular theme and have included topics such as funding, social enterprise, evaluation and monitoring and working with older people. Minutes and presentations are available to view or download from:

There was some discussion about how the group wanted the NE Food Access Forum to develop.  It was agreed that Sarah would circulate a proposal document for comments or ideas on future of the forum. Some issues were identified as being of particular importance such as rotating the day of the week that meetings are held and varying the location of the meeting across the North East. Suggested locations for future meetings included Durham, Easington, Sunderland, Hartlepool and Middlesborough.

It was agreed that the forum would next meet in January and that Sarah would send round some suggested dates and locations.

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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