January – March 2016

Crunch Ambassador Network
Contact Maria Deveraux, maria@sustainweb.org

  • Over 500 ambassadors have been recruited

  • Networking events are underway

We have now recruited over 580 ambassadors for The Crunch with the help of the Sustainable Food Cities and Sustain members and other local project networks. So far, lively and successful Ambassador networking events have been held in Cornwall at the Eden Project (the lead partner on the Ambassadors strand of The Crunch project, commissioned and coordinated nationally by the Wellcome Trust) and in Bristol, designed to inspire participants to start local conversations about food, health and the environment. Thirteen more regional events are planned.

To sign up as an Ambassador for The Crunch, or more details, visit: https://thecrunch.wellcome.ac.uk

 

Campaign for Better Hospital Food
Contact Katherine Button (after 6 October), www.sustainweb.org/hospitalfood/

  • Our Better Hospital Food dinner and discussion in January was attended by Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, resulting in us drafting and submitting our top 10 recommendations

  • A new CQUIN target and incentive payment has been published by NHS England, incentivising hospitals to improve 24-hour provision of healthy food for staff and visitors, chuck junk off hospital checkouts, remove junk food promotions, and collect data towards an NHS sugar tax

  • We continue to support a local campaign to save the patient food kitchen at Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester

Chef and food writer Prue Leith has long been a champion for our Campaign for Better Hospital Food. In January, she kindly hosted a dinner to bring together heads of NHS Trusts, clinicians, dietitians and catering staff – for a discussion about how to achieve food improvements for the benefit of patients, NHS staff and hospital visitors. The dinner, with a lively discussion chaired by Prue Leith, was also attended by Simon Stevens, head of NHS England. He asked the Campaign to coordinate ideas from participants for things NHS England could do to improve the situation. With our existing policy work, attendee contributions, and the support of the Food for Life hospital leaders programme, the next day we were able to submit to Simon Stevens our ten policy recommendations to improve hospital food.

NHS England soon enacted four of our ten recommendations – these were announced in March and become mandatory targets for all hospitals in England in April 2016, as follows. NHS England has:

  1. Used a national CQUIN – a mechanism to incentivise leadership through payments to NHS Hospital Trusts – to improve hospital food quality and compliance with food standards.

  2. Established a new CQUIN requirement for 24-hour healthy food provision for visitors and staff working shifts.

  3. Required hospitals to tackle commercial food providers to provide a healthier food offer by, for example, chucking junk food off the checkouts and introducing a sugary drinks tax.

  4. Asked for submission of data on hospital catering contracts, how much the contracts are worth and when they expire, to enable targeting of interventions to improve health.

NHS England has put these requirements in place by utilising the annual national CQIUN targets as per our recommendation. CQUINs (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation) are mandatory targets for all hospitals and a percentage of a hospitals budget is withheld until they have reached the required standards. This is the first time these national targets have been used to drive up food standards so this is a watershed moment for hospital food and a key win for the campaign.

Building on the very successful work of our Good Food for London project measuring and comparing the progress of London’s local authorities, we are now exploring a producing similar league table of NHS Trusts and hospitals on their food policies and provision. We will draw attention to the requirement for hospitals to have a Food and Drink Strategy as part of the standard NHS Contract (which was a campaign win in a previous phase of our campaign) and to highlight good practice and the benefits it brings.

Nearly half a million members of UNISON, the public service union and a member of the Sustain alliance, work in the NHS and for organisations providing NHS services. So we have also assisted UNISON in their national staff survey, to help back up calls for healthy 24-hour food provision in hospitals. A full report will be published soon but initial results indicate that almost 100 per cent of NHS shift workers would support a campaign for 24-hour healthy food provision for NHS staff in hospitals; and only 55 per cent of respondents would eat the food their hospitals serve to patients.

The Campaign for Better Hospital Food is also working to support the North West UNISON group’s campaign to keep Salford Royal’s patient food kitchen open in Manchester, in partnership with Medact.

We are also keeping in touch with the Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, who are working to raise funds for their local food hub, which would facilitate healthy meals using local and sustainable ingredients, for the benefit of patients and the local community.

 

Capital Growth 
Contact Julie Riehl, Maddie Guerlain or Sarah Williams, www.capitalgrowth.org

  • Capital Growth’s March network event at Frizzante Café, Hackney City Farm, welcomed over 50 people, with workshops on wildlife-friendly food growing, managing volunteers and fundraising

  • The Regent’s Park Allotment garden held six trainings over the quarter, with 36 people taking part, including the very popular, full-day course ‘Planning and managing your school garden’

  • Project officers Maddie Guerlain and Julie Riehl were guest speakers at River Cottage ‘Meet the Garden Experts’

Although winter is the quietest time for growers, here at Capital Growth we’ve been busy planning a packed year ahead. In February our new initiative London Grows was launched, funded by the City Bridge Trust. This will support 2,000 new people to volunteer in community food growing gardens over the next three years, helping to improve Londoners’ well-being and the city’s green environment. It will also focus on attracting new growers to get involved and increasing wildlife-friendly food growing through workshops, training and a new buddy scheme. We are partnering with five gardens around the city to be growing hubs for the project, who will host regular training and open days. Project officer Clare Gilbert was hired to be the new project support officer for London Grows.

Project officer Maddie Guerlain spoke on the panel ‘The Future of London's Food System’ at a Just Space Community Visions conference in February at City Hall. Capital Growth project officer Julie Riehl was a workshop leader at the Food Growing Schools: London conference held at Argyle School (Camden) in March, which saw the launch of Food Growing Schools: London’s campaign aim to get 50,000 pupils growing food across London by the end of the school year, to which Capital Growth is contributing.

Preparations also began for Big Dig Day on 16 April 2016, across London, Birmingham and Manchester.

 

Children’s Food Campaign
Contact Malcolm Clark, www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/

  • The Budget 2016 brought a major campaign victory – the introduction of a sugary drinks tax from 2018, with funds hypothecated for school breakfast clubs, sports and after-school activities

  • We shone the spotlight on brand characters and film licensing’s sugary pester power

  • High-street chemist Boots pledged to kick junk off their checkouts (as did NHS England for all hospitals) as our collaboration with an ITV documentary bears further fruit

  • The Parents’ Jury is set to return, engaging parents in helping children eat well

The 2016 Budget: a watershed moment for children’s health? Only time will tell, but there is no doubt that the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement of a sugary drinks tax was a huge campaign victory for Sustain. It has also already heralded significant reformulation pledges from the soft drinks industry. This comes just three years after Sustain launched a campaign for an idea, then far outside the political mainstream. Government spokespeople are now touring media studios repeating our key messages and MPs of all parties spoke up in the Budget Debate to praise a sugary drinks tax. All fantastic achievements.

Of course, recognition – and thanks – must go not only to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his team for the unstoppable campaigning force that together we have formed over the past seven months, but to all the 60+ organisations who stuck their necks out to back a sugary drinks tax when we published our original report in 2013 recommending the measure; and to all those organisations and individuals who have come on board since and have helped change both political and public opinion. We shall be drawing on everyone’s support again in the coming months as Government consults on implementation of the levy.

A sugary drinks tax was only one amongst ten policies – including junk food marketing restrictions on TV and online, and mandatory food standards for all schools, including academies – which we have been campaigning to see included in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy. In January, we circulated a briefing to MPs in advance of a debate in the Commons Chamber. Since then we have been working with the new Obesity Health Alliance (of which we are members) and others to push our policy calls… and now to keep the issues on the agenda despite the yet further delay in the Obesity Strategy’s publication.

Our Junk Free Checkouts campaign has claimed more successes, with the high-street chemist Boots promising to remove sweets and chocolates from tills by mid-April. This was followed by the welcome announcement that NHS England will be incentivising hospitals to remove junk food from checkouts in all UK hospitals. These announcements came after an ITV Tonight investigation on the subject, broadcast on 25 February. As well as working closely with the documentary’s producers on much of their content, our Children’s Food Campaign ‘tooth fairies’ made an appearance, filmed singing a parody cola marketing song and handing out toothbrushes by the Coca-Cola London Eye.

Just before Easter, we published research showing the extent to which sugary products are licensed and marketed via the very popular Minions, Star Wars, Frozen and other films with large children’s audiences. Our aim was to remind the Government and the Committee on Advertising Practice that this is an area that parents are very keen for them to tackle. Also on the subject of marketing, thanks to a complaint we submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority, Weetabix will now change the wording they are using to market Weetabix Crispy Minis (a sugary spin-off of the original healthier cereal).

Public Health England has updated national dietary guidelines – the Eatwell Guide. As we and others called for in consultation submissions, the new guidance visually shows that chocolates, crisps and junk food are not an essential part of a balanced diet but rather an occasional treat on the side. We also welcomed the recognition that diet has an impact beyond health, and that what we eat, and how that food is produced, affects important things such as climate change and the sustainability of fish stocks.

Finally, we have just started working up proposals for a new Parents’ Jury – an initiative first, and very successfully, backed by Professor Aubrey Sheiham of University College London (an inspiring campaigning dental epidemiologist) and the Food Commission a decade ago. Sadly, Aubrey passed away in November 2015. We have greatly missed his contributions to Children’s Food Campaign working party meetings, and to the wider sugar and public health debates. It will be an honour to follow in his esteemed footsteps and – in his memory – bring parents’ voices and concerns to the forefront.

 

Children’s Health Fund
Contact Gloria Davies-Coates, www.childrenshealthfund.org.uk

  • The Children’s Health Fund is working with 134 restaurants around the UK

  • The first round of funding, focused on drinking water provision was launched in February 2016 and received 500 applications

  • The second round of funding, focused on holiday food provision, will be open in July 2016

The Children’s Health Fund team congratulate our colleagues working on the Children’s Food Campaign and extend our thanks to Jamie Oliver and his team for their sterling campaigning work which led to the announcement by government that a sugar tax will be implemented in 2018. However, two years is a long time in politics and for children’s health, so with the support of our Board and existing restaurants, the Fund will continue to raise money for children’s food education and health projects around the UK.

We are now in discussions with other chain restaurants who want to join. In addition, we are working with the Sustainable Food Cities coordinators in Newcastle and Bournemouth to recruit more restaurants. We have also been approached by a number of councils around London, The Wirral and Havering who are investigating implementing the sugar drinks levy in their canteens and cafés.

The first round of funding with a focus on promotion of drinking tap water, attracted over 500 applicants with 160 completed applications going forward for shortlisting. The Children’s Health Fund Board will meet in May to judge shortlisted applications and decide where to allocate the funds. The Board met on 7 March 2016 and decided the second round of funding would focus on holiday food provision. This fund will open in July 2016 with funding allocated in November, to allow for the summer break and give schools a fair chance to apply.

 

Farming Policy
Contact Kath Dalmeny, www.sustainweb.org/foodandfarmingpolicy/

Kath, Ben and Sarah have been undertaking a range of activities in support of our nascent campaign for ‘a million better jobs for better farming and land use’. These have included fundraising activities:

  • An interview with Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, resulting in this foundation agreeing a grant of £90k over three years

  • A second-stage funding submission to the Friends Provident Foundation

  • A first-stage funding application to the Prince’s Countryside Fund

This has also involved early-stage development in various areas of project work. We have:

  • Received a first draft of a research briefing undertaken by the New Economics Foundation, commissioned by Sustain and the Food Research Collaboration at City University London, examining prospects for more and better jobs in sustainable farming in the UK

  • Helped to plan a research seminar looking at improving jobs and working conditions on farms, and in the wider food sector, to be hosted by the Food Research Collaboration in April

  • Participated in continuing development of advocacy work as part of the Groceries Code Action Network, involving Traidcraft, Fairtrade Foundation, National Farmers Union, other unions, Feedback: the food waste charity and Sustain, among others

  • Participated in meetings and research with colleagues such as Kindling Trust, the Campaign for Real Farming and the Landworkers Alliance, examining ways to improve prospects for new entrant farmers, such as more accessible farm training and apprenticeships, including in small-scale horticulture, and access to land

  • Helped to facilitate the first meeting of a nascent Better Food Traders network of ethical retail practitioners seeking to provide better market outlets for farmers

  • Continued to participate in the Square Meal group on a national food and farming policy

  • Undertaken further consultation to gather evidence for action and statements of concern and support to build our case and momentum for concerted action to bring about change

 

Growing Health 
Contact Maria Devereux or Sarah Williams, www.sustainweb.org/growinghealth/

  • The Growing Health ‘Which tool to use?’ guide has been launched

‘Which tool to use? A guide for evaluating health and wellbeing outcomes for community growing programmes’, written by Growing Health, was launched at a London workshop on 23rd March. Funded by a Groundwork-led Communities Living Sustainably programme the publication can be downloaded https://www.sustainweb.org/publications/whichtooltouse/  

 

London Food Link
Contacts: Chris Young or Sofia Parente, londonfoodlink@sustainweb.org, www.londonfoodlink.org Twitter @londonfoodlink

  • The London Food Link network continues to grow

  • Our 2016 Spring Get-Together sold out in record time

We have renewed our efforts to attract more supporters for the London Food Link network. This has involved better highlighting the successful campaigning, project and networking activities that we are asking people to support, as well as continuing to build the range of benefits we offer. During the quarter, more than 50 people either joined London Food Link or renewed their support, which was a slight increase on the same time last year.

During this quarter, we arranged for the Mexican food chain Wahaca (founded by food waste campaigner Thomasina Miers) to host our Spring Get-Together in April, details of which will be in the next report. Tickets sold out in record time, all booked over a month before the event.

We also continued discussions with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the south-bank’s Borough Market about organising this year’s Urban Food Awards, with the aim of opening entries in the spring.

 

The Jellied Eel magazine, contact Chris Young, www.sustainweb.org/jelliedeel/

  • We published a celebratory 50th edition of The Jellied Eel, London’s ethical food magazine

  • It contained an exclusive interview with celebrity chef and sugar-tax champion Jamie Oliver

  • It championed the work of London Food Link other Sustain projects and campaigns

Work this quarter focused on completing issue 50 (spring) and starting on issue 51 (summer) of The Jellied Eel magazine. Being the magazine’s 50th issue, we took the opportunity to look back over and celebrate the many successes of London Food Link, and some of our supporters and friends, and the progress made on food issues in the capital since the magazine’s launch in 2002. Bringing things right up to date and looking ahead, two major features were on London Food Link’s annual Good Food For London report, showing improvements in food across 31 of London’s 33 boroughs, and our work to keep food high on the agenda of the candidates in May 2016’s mayoral election.

Helping us to celebrate was celebrity chef and sugar-tax champion Jamie Oliver, in an interview where he shone the spotlight on good food goings-on in the capital, and his partnership with Sustain on the Children’s Health Fund. Other features covered: The launch of London Grows; London honey beers; Tom Hunt's Easter eggs-ellence; and Borough Market.

 

London Mayoral Elections update

We have spoken to all the candidates teams, hearing their ideas about commitments to food policies if they were to become Mayor, and helped inform many of their ideas from our experience and manifesto of calls which we have drawn into a document called Vote Good Food. We are keeping an updated list of relevant Mayoral commitments as they are released. This informed an article in the latest Jellied Eel which also included London Food Link supporters ‘photo asks’ which had been sent in. We have also been supporting, informing and/or promoting Mayoral campaigns by other friendly organisations including the Green Alliance, Family Friendly London and the Community Food Growers Network, which included a blog we wrote for the Green Alliance.

 

Good Food for London 2015 and 2016 reports, contact Sofia Parente, www.sustainweb.org/publications/good_food_for_london_2015/

  • The measures, criteria and process for Good Food for London 2016 have been agreed with partner groups running healthy and ethical food schemes, who continue to be keen supporters

  • Renewed financial support of the GLA and another partner organisation has been agreed

  • We have established key contacts in three boroughs who have traditionally been poor performers on food issues, with a view to improving their scores

  • An evaluation report has been produced, clearly showing the value of a mapping and league-table approach to improving local authority engagement in health and sustainability

Since the launch of the Good Food for London report in December 2015 we have met and agreed the measures for 2016 with partners. The project was promoted at meetings involving partners and local authorities (e.g. Boroughs Implementation Group).

We also produced an evaluation report, clearly showing the value of a mapping and league-table approach to improving local authority engagement in health and sustainability. It showed that the Good Food for London report, now in its fifth year, has been demonstrably effective in encouraging sign-up to all of the individual good food schemes that it promotes, and is contributing to change the food landscape in London. In response to our evaluation survey:

  • About half (45 to 50%) of London council representatives said that Good Food for London had been influential in signing up to the Sustainable Fish Cities Pledge, Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards, Local Food Partnerships, Healthier Catering Commitment, Marine Stewardship Council Fish & Kids programme in schools, Food Growing Schools: London and Capital Growth.

  • For the Food for Life programme, Healthy Schools, Fairtrade Borough status and Food for Life Catering Mark, 30 to 40% of council representatives said the report influenced sign-up (noting that for Fairtrade, this may mean ‘renewal’ of Fairtrade status).

  • For newer measures in the report, the Unicef Baby Friendly initiative and borough Living Wage accreditation, 15 to 20% said the report had already influenced sign-up.

Looking across the London food landscape, Gold and Silver Food for Life Catering Mark meals and higher animal welfare food are now becoming the norm in London schools and other food controlled by London councils, and Good Food for London has played a part in achieving this change. Good Food for London is also influencing the supply chain and catering companies to make changes across their national operations as a result of leadership from some London local authorities.

Half of council representatives (49%) said the report was effective, very effective or extremely effective in changing local authority practice on food-related measures, with 78% of partner organisations saying the report is very or extremely effective in this regard.

“Absolutely brilliant initiative, it gives me clear justification to move forward on these important issues.” London Council representative, Good Food for London evaluation response.

 

London Food Poverty programme, contact Hannah Laurison, www.sustainweb.org/foodpoverty/london/

Following the release of the 2015 London Food Poverty Profile, our Campaign has worked with several London boroughs to develop local food poverty action plans. At a webinar in February, we heard from Lewisham and cities across the UK that have used food poverty action plans to identify local priorities on food poverty. London boroughs are currently completing the 2016 London food poverty questionnaire, the results of which will be released in August.

 

Cage Free Capital campaign, contact Sofia Parente, www.sustainweb.org/londonfoodlink/cage_free_capital/

This successful targeted campaign came to an end in December 2015. We have since then researched what other sectors in London we could reach to demand cage-free eggs and higher welfare food. We have decided to focus on sports venues, responsible for hundreds of thousands of meals every week, particularly around big sport events. The aim of this campaign which we called ‘Premier League of Food’, would be to influence major London sports and entertainment venues and their contract caterers to improve the food they serve and the food culture they promote. We prepared a campaign plan and have submitted applications for funding to partner organisations and charitable foundations.

 

Real Bread Campaign
Contact Chris Young, www.realbreadcampaign.org Twitter: @realbread

  • We are currently gearing up for Real Bread Week

  • Our second Defra delegation pushed for Real Bread standards

  • An Advertising Standards Authority ruling caused disappointment

  • We completed ‘Together We Rise’ research looking at the therapeutic benefits of bread-making

Work stepped up this quarter on plans for Real Bread Week. The theme this year is ‘doughing it for the kids’, sharing the delicious delights of Real Bread with children through baking classes and tastings. Volunteers Henry and Nat put in many hours calling Real Bread Campaign supporters who run bakeries and baking schools to encourage them to add details of their events and activities to our calendar.

On 20th January, a Real Bread Campaign delegation met representatives of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for a second time to make progress on the Campaign’s demand for legislation to ensure greater clarity and transparency in loaf labelling and marketing. Defra was disinclined to tighten regulation, instead suggesting putting the onus on bakers by applying for a protected name status for sourdough and a voluntary industry scheme for the use of other descriptors, such as artisan. We will be consulting Real Bread Campaign supporters before deciding our next steps.

The Campaign was disappointed by an Advertising Standards Authority ruling that a series of adverts for ‘sourdough’ toasties were not misleading, despite the product being made with added yeast.

This quarter saw the end of the main information-gathering phase of Together We Rise, and work will begin next quarter on using this as the basis of the guidance we will create to help bakeries set up social and therapeutic baking initiatives, and for charities working with people living with mental health issues (or facing a range of other challenges) to establish Real Bread schemes or enterprises.

Over the past three months, 346 people began or renewed support for our work, while our following on Twitter passed 25,000. For regular Real Bread Campaign updates sign up to receive the monthly enewsletter Breadcrumbs: www.sustainweb.org/realbread/breadcrumbs

 

Sustainable Food Cities
Contact Hannah Laurison, www.sustainablefoodcities.org Twitter: @Foodcities

  • Sustainable Food Cities network holds annual conference in Liverpool, on the true cost of sustainable food

This quarter, the Sustainable Food Cities network welcomed the 44th city to the fold. Preston joins cities across the UK taking a joined-up approach to creating a healthier, more sustainable local food system.

The Sustainable Food Cities ‘Beyond the Food Bank’ campaign is picking up steam with many cities in the network now working to tackle food poverty in a coordinated manner. Sustain is leading on the development of a UK food poverty alliance, which aims to support cities tackling food poverty at the local level as well as coordinate a set of national policy asks.

In January, Sustain and the Food Research Collaboration, the Food Foundation, Oxfam, and the Sociology Department of Oxford University convened a workshop of academics, third-sector organisations and key representatives from the devolved nations to map the way forward on food poverty monitoring in the UK. The conclusion of the workshop was that the UK would benefit from using a standard measure of household food insecurity, which could be used to monitor the problem at both national and devolved levels as part of existing social and health surveys.

 

Sustainable Fish Cities
Contact Ruth Westcott, www.fishcities.net

  • The Government ‘Eatwell Guide’ recommended, for the first time, fish from sustainable sources

  • Productive conversations with restaurant groups followed our ‘Point the Fish Finger’ campaign

  • Sustainable fish policies were adopted by Cardiff Metropolitan University and the National Procurement Service Wales

Public Health England’s new national dietary recommendations, the Eatwell Guide, include the encouragement to eat fish as part of a healthy diet. For the first time, it recommends eating only sustainably sourced fish, with explanatory notes that promote Marine Stewardship Council's certified sustainable seafood. As our welcoming press statement, picked up in the trade press and by working party participants, explained: “Sustain and our Sustainable Fish Cities campaign have been arguing for over 15 years that official healthy eating advice must also encourage people to choose only verifiably sustainable fish. Previous governments and their agencies have ignored or fudged the issue, treating healthy eating as separate from environmental concerns. Such advice is followed by shoppers, but also, importantly, by professionals such as nutritionists and caterers working in schools, hospitals and care homes, as well as by many procurement officers and nutritionists working for food companies and buying fish in enormous volumes. So the advice offered by government is crucial to the well-being of people, but also of the fish stocks and ecosystems that feed us.”

Very productive conversations are continuing with Casual Dining Group and The Restaurant Group (less so with JD Wetherspoon), following our ‘Point the Fish Finger’ campaign run in December 2015. We are hopeful of securing significant sustainable fish pledges as a result. A pledge was also received this quarter from Cardiff Metropolitan University, and a new policy agreed for sustainable fish buying for the National Procurement Service Wales – both influential food buyers in Wales.

This quarter has also seen the development of a new campaign, the ‘Premier League of Fish’ (which will hopefully broaden to become the Premier League of Food, with fish a first step to prove our method works). We have identified caterers serving food at the top London sports and cultural venues, and what their current performance and commitment is on fish. The heads and other relevant personnel at these venues have now all been contacted, and we have received our first pledge, from Orbital, part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Funding bids have been submitted to seek support for this work in future.

 

Alliance projects

 

Square Meal

This policy discussion and development group brings together representatives from Compassion in World Farming, Eating Better Alliance, Food Ethics Council, the Food Research Collaboration at the Centre for Food Policy (City University London), Friends of the Earth, RSPB, Soil Association, Sustain, Wildlife & Countryside Link and the Wildlife Trusts. The aim is to foster collaboration to promote policies and practices in support of a healthy and sustainable food and farming system, and to champion this approach with policy-makers and relevant policy processes. The group continues to meet regularly and is making plans for activities throughout 2016.

On 1st March, the Square Meal group hosted an event to discuss how a more sustainable food system could help tackle climate change, with expert panellists and several MPs. The event discussed the need to reduce our meat consumption, whose role it is to take the lead in driving change, and how policy tools like the Common Agricultural Policy could work much harder for people and the environment.

 

Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, contact Emma Rose erose@saveourantibiotics.eu

This project is jointly run by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain, and supported by the Jeremy Coller Foundation. The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is coordinated by campaigner Emma Rose, who has been working effectively to build relationships, commission research, and champion the main policy recommendations with industry, government and regulatory bodies.

This quarter has seen a great deal of work in relation to an EU Parliament vote on banning prophylactic (‘just in case’) use of antibiotics in farming. This work was successful, with the Parliament voting to support the ban. More work is now needed on how this will be interpreted and implemented.

Meanwhile in the UK, two Shadow Secretaries of State sent a letter – drafted with the support and expertise of the Alliance – to their Government counterparts, addressing the need to reduce farm antibiotic use. The Alliance has also worked with Labour’s shadow Defra team to announce new policies on reducing farm antibiotic use in the UK. And Emma has met with food industry representatives to encourage large food buyers to set antibiotic reduction standards in their livestock supply chains.

The Alliance is also planning a major national conference for 14th April, in partnership with the doctors’ alliance Medact, examining the evidence and case for drastically reducing farm antibiotic use, to prevent over-use of antibiotics – especially those ‘critically important’ for human use, and ‘antibiotics of last resort’ for human use – from losing their efficacy and generating widespread antibiotic resistance.

 

Eating Better Alliance, contact Sue Dibb: sue@eating-better.org, www.eating-better.org

The Eating Better Alliance welcomed Public Health England’s revised ‘Eatwell’ national dietary guidelines, which incorporates both health and sustainability considerations and hence has reduced the recommended daily intake of meat and dairy products.

Alliance members have also been helping to celebrate 2016 as International Year of the Pulse, highlighting the benefits they can bring in terms of nutritional value, low-cost protein, food security and reducing the ecological footprints of our diets. Friends of the Earth, a member of the Eating Better Alliance, has challenged people to get involved by growing a pulse plant, in a competitive Pulse Race to raise the profile of this amazing yet often ignored foodstuff.

 

Organic Sector Development, contact Catherine Fookes: catherine@organictradeboard.co.uk

This campaign is run by the independent Organic Trade Board (OTB). Sustain is helping to manage the finances for this complex EU-funded project, and is continuing to support the OTB in their third bid to the EU for funds to run the Organic: Naturally Better campaign, whose management will pass to the OTB in this third phase, with Sustain potentially becoming a delivery partner.

The sell-out annual pledgor briefing took place early March, which was very well received. The conference shared results from 2015, with a short film summarising these at: www.organictradeboard.co.uk/Organic%20News/OTB%20launches%20OrganicUnboxed/. It also saw the launch of the #OrganicUnboxed campaign, and featured an inspiring presentation on the tremendous success of organic promotion in Denmark. The organic sector in Denmark will be a partner in the project if EU funding is approved, with news due in October 2016.

A film with popular blogger Madeleine Shaw showcased organic producers and the benefits of organic food, and has had 189,000 views so far, see: http://madeleineshaw.com/videos/organic-unboxed/

The Wake Up to Organic 2016 campaign was also launched for independent retailers. It will take place on June 16th. For more information contact Annie@organictradeboard.co.uk

Organic: naturally different campaign coordinator Catherine Fookes, who works for the Organic Trade Board, is currently working hard on the next bid to the EU. The deadline is April 28th.

 

UK Food Group, contact Jean Blaylock, jean@ukfg.org.uk, www.ukfg.org.uk

The UK Food Group held a session on ‘Strengthening the people’s markets’. Most people in the world get their food through local, regional and national markets, often including ‘informal’ markets. These are vital for food security and often important parts of local economies. Yet when the ‘market’ is said by policy makers it usually implies the global market, dominated by large corporations. Andrea Ferrante from Via Campesina in Europe talked about efforts to refocus policy discussions at the global level on supporting people’s markets, while Georgina McAllister from UK Food Group member, Garden Africa, presented a case study on a project supporting small-scale producers in Zimbabwe to meet the growing demand for organic food in the capital, instead of it being met mainly through imports.

The policy process that Ferrante presented is taking place at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the UK Food Group has been part of the civil society working group that is preparing for negotiations over the summer. This included compiling a bibliography of existing case studies and research on what are variously called informal markets, people’s markets, local food webs, alternative food markets and territorial markets.

In the EU Parliament, the Greens have initiated a report into EU support for the G7 New Alliance, which the UK Food Group and other civil society groups have been criticising for several years. For example, there are concerns that the New Alliance will require African countries to make regulatory changes to land and seed laws that remove rights from local people. The report by the Greens was broadly in line with civil society views, leading to some strong draft recommendations including that if the New Alliance cannot be improved then the EU should withdraw support. These recommendations need to go through several levels of debate within the Parliament, where they are in danger of being watered down, and the UK Food Group joined with other European civil society groups in campaigning at the first hearing.

 

Other alliance activities

Sustain is working in partnership with the medical alliance Medact on several initiatives, most notably the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics and the Campaign for Better Hospital Food. Medact has also invited Sustain to be one of so far 11 national partners in their annual conference, this year’s being entitled: ‘Healthy Planet, Better World: Bringing the health community together to address our global ecological crises’. This will take place at Friends Meeting House, 9th-10th December 2016.

Kath has also been invited to sit on the steering group (editorial board) of a new initiative run by the UK Health Forum (UKHF), called ‘Eating Well Within Our Means’. This aims to develop a consensus-based and evidence-informed strategy for healthy and sustainable diets in the UK. This will involve:

  • A small steering group to agree the scope and process of the project and its final outputs;

  • Up to two engagement meetings with UKHF members and invited stakeholders;

  • Online consultation with public-interest stakeholders on a draft strategy document;

  • Publication of a report and summary document (tailored to the four UK nations);

  • Building wider support and mobilisation.

Outputs will include an evidence-based report and a summary document that proposes actions for a UK-wide strategy on healthy and sustainable diets that is consistent with achieving the WHO 25 by 25 non-communicable disease reduction goals, UN Sustainable Development Goals and aligned with the Paris 2015 climate change commitments.


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