Sustainable Food Cities - Local Action Officer

Job title

Local Action Officer


Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming


£23,411 (four days per week), which equates to £29,263 full-time equivalent.  In addition, Sustain matches pension contributions up to 5% of gross salary.


The post is London based. Travel within UK is expected. Sustain’s office in the Cambridge Heath area of London

Position type

12 month fixed-term contract with potential to extend

Working hours

Starting early 2020. Part-time, four days per week (28 hours).  Travel within the UK will be required, with occasional overnight stays

Other details

16 days annual leave, which equates to 20 days full-time equivalent.  The annual leave rises by two days (pro rata) each year to a maximum limit of 25 days.  The office closes over the Christmas period, and this period provides additional holiday days.

Website(s), and

Equal opportunities

Sustain is an equal opportunities employer. See our equal opportunities policy:  

Project Background

Across the globe, communities at every scale have recognised the key role food can play in dealing with some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges and are taking a joined-up approach to transforming their food culture and food system.

From obesity and diet-related ill-health to food poverty and waste, climate change and biodiversity loss to declining prosperity and social dislocation, food is not only at the heart of some of our greatest problems but is also a vital part of the solution.

The Sustainable Food Cities (SFC) approach involves developing a cross-sector partnership of local public agencies, businesses, academics and NGOs committed to working together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. Since 2013 the SFC Network has helped people and places share challenges, explore practical solutions and develop good practice on key food issues, and works with 55+ local areas across the UK, not just cities.

All the members have a strategy and action plan in place, supported by a local food partnership. Practical and policy progress on key food issues are recognised and celebrated through the Sustainable Food Cities Awards, and cultivated through a range of initiatives, including SUGAR SMART and other Sustainable Food City campaigns, such as Veg Cities, Sustainable Fish Cities, and related work on food poverty (Food Power) and planning (Planning Food Cities).

SFC is run in partnership with Food Matters, the Soil Association (overall project manager) and Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, with each organisation taking the lead on specific areas of work (Sustain is lead partner for coordinating campaigns, local action and good food movements).

Sustainability is a very broad concept and is about direction of travel rather than reaching a specific destination. In developing their plans, many cities have found it useful to address food across six areas:

  1. Taking a strategic and collaborative approach to good food governance and action
  2. Building public awareness, active food citizenship and a local good food movement
  3. Tackling food poverty and diet related ill-health and increasing access to affordable healthy food
  4. Creating a vibrant, prosperous and diverse sustainable food economy
  5. Transforming catering and procurement and revitalizing local and sustainable food supply chains
  6. Tackling the climate and nature emergency through sustainable food/farming and an end to food waste.

We have also used these six ‘key issues’ to structure both the SFC Award (managed by the Soil Association) and help us design and implement the SFC Campaigns (managed by Sustain), with measurable results from campaign activity then being able to count towards a city’s award application. Early development of these partnerships is supported principally by Food Matters and the Network Coordinator.

As detailed in the job description below, this role will have a focus on the following elements of SFC.


SUGAR SMART is a campaign that works with councils, businesses, institutions and other sectors to help reduce overconsumption of sugar in their local areas. SUGAR SMART supports local campaigns to take this cross-sector approach to transform their food environment and raise public awareness of the impacts of consuming too much sugar, and to convert this local activity into change at a national

This role will also work with other SFC campaigns and projects, including Veg Cities, Sustainable Fish Cities, and future campaigns and projects to be developed in conjunction with the SFC network. More information on the Veg Cities and Sustainable Fish Cities campaigns can be found here:

Good Food Movements

The most successful local SFC programmes not only have a strong and inclusive cross-sector food partnership at their heart but have also nurtured and connected a much wider network (and thematic sub-networks) of active food citizens as part of a growing local good food movement. We believe that providing the opportunity and means for these local networks to connect, share ideas and work together is vital for any food partnership that wants to maximise participation and impact and to sustain itself over the longer term.

Learning from those places that have succeeded in building a strong local good food movement, we want to help food partnerships to more effectively nurture, connect and support local food actors at every level and across all parts of their community as they design and deliver local solutions to the food issues that matter to them.

One of the most common pieces of feedback we receive from those connected to the SFC Network is how much they value being part of a national movement that is open to, involves and links people from all walks of life and every corner of the UK. With the range and number of partnerships likely to double over the next five years, we are keen to reinforce the sense of collective identity and ambition that all these partnerships have. In addition to our annual conference, regional events and on-line platforms which provide great opportunities for this movement to connect and build a sense of common purpose, we are looking to organise a national ‘Day of celebration’ to more effectively galvanise citizen-led food activism in communities across the UK.

For more information see

About Sustain

This role is based within Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming which 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. We represent around 100 organisations working internationally, nationally, regionally and locally. Some of our recent alliance campaign successes include the following, we:

  • Put a sugary drinks tax on the national agenda, then campaigned successfully with chef Jamie Oliver to see it adopted in the 2016 Spring Budget and confirmed in the government’s August 2016 Obesity Plan. This came after we also won robust legislation to protect children from junk food adverts on TV.
  • Re-framed the national response to the current food poverty crisis, away from food banks and towards practical solutions to household food insecurity, helping vulnerable people to eat well.
  • Ran a network of 1,000+ small-scale food businesses, helping them source ethical food, reduce food waste, divert unavoidable food waste to useful purposes, and to promote their work.
  • Worked with the Organic Trade Board to facilitate the UK’s first generic organic marketing campaign, helping put the organic market back into growth for the first time since the recession.
  • Facilitated creation of over 2,000 new community food growing spaces in London, working with many partner groups, the Mayor of London, local authorities and other land owners.
  • Secured commitments from over half of supermarkets to remove junk food from their checkouts.
  • Won national public-sector standards for food served in UK hospitals, schools, prisons, government and the armed forces, to benefit farmers, farm animals, sustainable fisheries and healthier eating.

Sustain is an unusual organisation – small, creative, friendly, supportive, responsive and highly effective. We are frequently complimented for “punching well above our weight”. We value our staff and pride ourselves on creating an organisational culture that focuses on good relationships and working together to achieve ambitious change. Sustainable Food Cities is one of the most ambitious and exciting projects that we are currently engaged with, and we look forward to working with project partners and the new Campaigns Coordinator to make phase 2 a resounding success.

For more information see

Job description

Tasks and responsibilities

The Local Action Officer will have a varied and exciting workload and work in collaboration with Sustain’s senior management, the SFC Campaign Coordinator, the SFC Local Action Coordinator and close liaison with other key SFC staff in Sustain, Food Matters and the Soil Association, cities, project partners and funders.

The Officer’s responsibilities will include (with indication of likely divide of time over the week):

  • Supporting Good Food Movements (0.5 days)
    To work with the Local Action Coordinator to:
    • Support food partnerships to create and connect local good food movements of active and engaged citizens and facilitate citizen-led community food initiatives
    • Help food partnerships to more effectively at every level and across all parts of their community
    • Enable partnerships to engage with a much wider local audience and to create and facilitate the physical and on-line spaces needed for them to come together, communicate and collaborate.
  • Supporting SFC Local Action Coordinator on SUGAR SMART and future local action (2 days)
    Leading on:
    • Relationships with, and support for local SUGAR SMART groups – primarily run by SFC members.
    • Maintaining the workplan and systems for managing and monitoring engagement with SUGAR SMART partners.
    • Organising webinars and/or workshops on SUGAR SMART
    • Creating and promoting an engaging online and media campaign presence via the website(s), SFC network newsletter, external communications, traditional media and social media i.e. running the SUGAR SMART twitter account.
    • Relationships with national organisations and national SUGAR SMART campaign and SFC partners – and to organise quarterly meetings with them to inform the work.
    • Amplifying the voices of those working at grassroots level in local areas or in different settings to ensure they are heard at a national level
    • Working with Sustain staff and project partners to develop useful assets e.g. guides, posters, etc.
    • Provide advice to cities on specific actions e.g. vending, advertising and sponsorship.
    • Supporting administration/monitoring of grants to SUGAR SMART (and also Fish Cities).
  • Supporting SFC staff to get local engagement on other activities (1 days)
    • Work with the Campaign Coordinator to support local SFC groups around the country to engage in the annual Day of celebration, including support before and on the Day.
    • Supporting other SFC staff on local engagement on time-specific national thematic actions, including:
      • Sustainable Fish – changing fish supply in local pubs and other caterers
      • Veg Cities – increasing access to, and uptake of, more vegetables.
  • Communications (0.5 days)
    • Lead on adding campaign, local action and good food movement news online from cities
    • Producing monthly newsletters for Sugar Smart, Veg Cities and Sustainable Fish Cities

The Officer will also:

  • Contribute to the general tasks/expectations e.g. attending and supporting the main SFC conference, SFC meetings, and being a spokesperson for SFC.
  • Contribute to the mutually supportive culture of Sustain, among the staff team, and project participants.
  • Develop fundraising activities to enhance, extend campaigns or develop new ones, contributing ideas and expertise to fundraising initiatives that may be of benefit to programme partners and cities.
  • Help cities with advice, data or other shared resources to win their own local support and funding, and to cultivate in-kind contributions.
  • Maintain excellent financial and other records, to help with accountability and open to public scrutiny. The Officer will work with the other SFC staff and Sustain’s finance and management team to report to the funder, relevant project working parties and sub-groups, and the Sustain Council of Trustees (who ultimately also report to the Sustain alliance members).

The role is based in Sustain’s London office, and is likely to involve travel nationally, occasionally with overnight stays, to enable participation of a wide range of geographical locations through support, training, regional events, and occasional conferences. The post holder will also undertake any other responsibilities in connection with the project that may arise from time to time.

Personal Specification

We are seeking candidates who have the following skills and experience:


  • Experience of working within a network or movement
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, with strong attention to detail
  • Good relationship building and team working skills
  • Ability to work independently, with high levels of self-motivation
  • Good project management, time management and organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines
  • Energy, enthusiasm, creativity and tenacity.
  • Entitlement to work in the UK (Sustain is not able to assist with applications for work permits).
  • Availability to commence work promptly following the recruitment process.
  • Knowledge of issues surrounding healthy food and junk food
  • Commitment to sustainable food and farming


  • Track record of running successful campaigns
  • Co-ordination and motivation of networks and coalitions
  • Digital campaigning and social networking skills
  • Good public speaking skills
  • Experience in the fields of food and/or public health
  • Experience of working with local authorities and the public sector
  • Training or experience in nutrition
  • Successful track record in fundraising
  • Experience of volunteer management
  • Experience of working with the media, including ability to give clear and convincing media interviews


Please send a CV and covering letter addressing the person specifications set out in the job description above. Applications by email to As we are recruiting for several positions over this period, please add SFC to the subject line of your covering email along with your name.

Closing date for applications: 10am, 6 January 2020. Successful candidates will be notified by 10 January. Interviews will take place on 17 January in Sustain’s offices. Unfortunately, we are not able to respond to those who are unsuccessful in getting an interview. We encourage applications from anyone with relevant skills and interests but regret that we are unable to assist with finding accommodation or with visa applications. We envisage this work to start in early 2020.

The Sustain alliance is a registered charity (no 1018643) and a company limited by guarantee, which is registered in England and Wales (no 02673194). Registered office: The Green House, 244 – 254 Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9DA

The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777

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

© Sustain 2020
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Data privacy & cookies