Sustain project reports
October – December 2014

Campaign for Better Hospital Food
Contact Alex Jackson
Twitter @BetterNHSfood

  • New funding to carry out our campaign plans for the next three years
  • Government hospital food commitments come under greater scrutiny

We are very thankful to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for providing new funding for the Campaign for Better Hospital Food which enables us to begin a new three-year phase, starting in February 2015. In his next phase, we will be calling for improvements to hospital food at both a national and local level. Nationally, we will be calling for:

  • Improvements to the hospital food standards which are included in NHS England’s NHS Standard Contract and therefore, according to the Department of Health, “legally-binding” for hospitals to meet;
  • Responsibility for the monitoring and evaluation of these standards to be handed over to an independent body, such as the Care Quality Commission, and
  • The food standards to be set down in primary legislation if Trusts are found not to be meeting the standards after commissioning contracts for NHS health services come into force early next year.

Locally, we will be helping to run at least two campaigns in different parts of England to help local communities push for improvements to hospital food in their area. The nature of these improvements will reflect the concerns of local people.

A draft copy of NHS England’s ‘Standard Contract’ has been published and does include a reference to the government’s hospital food standards. However, in a concerning development, the Department of Health now acknowledges that there is no deadline by which hospitals will have to meet the standards, and will instead allow for a “reasonable time for implementation”. This undermines their original commitment that the hospital food standards will be “legally-binding” from April 2015.


Capital Bee
Contact Ross Compton

London’s pollinators: Creating a buzz in the capital has now been launched ( and we will be working with others to promote the proposals it makes. A meeting of all the organisations involved in promoting London’s pollinators is planned to take place in Spring 2015 and this will be a chance to review what the new National Pollinator Strategy – launched in November 2014 by Liz Truss MP for DEFRA  – means for London.  


Capital Growth 
Contact Eloise Dey, Julie Riehl or Sarah Williams
Twitter @capital_growth

  • Capital Growth reaches 2320 spaces
  • More London boroughs commit to supporting Capital Growth
  • Future Farmers event held to promote traineeships
  • Capital Growth School Marketplace at City Hall event on Tuesday 14th October with nine schools trading produce and selling out within two hours

This quarter the Capital Growth network reached 2320 spaces, with City, Harrow, Hounslow, Brent and Havering giving their support to Capital Growth. This increase in support from boroughs has come as a result of the Good Food for London report. Unfortunately, since last year’s report Barking & Dagenham, Hillingdon, and Wandsworth have become less supportive.

The Future Farmers seminar brought together growers and organisations to discuss and learn about the role of apprenticeships and traineeships in the urban agriculture scene in London. The seminar provided a useful forum for the attendees to exchange experience and knowledge about apprenticeships off the back of the recently released Future Farmers Guide.

In this quarter Capital Growth celebrated the achievements of the enterprising growing spaces in the Urban Food Awards, with awards given to both school and non-schools spaces. The results of the awards are listed under London Food Link below. As part of our School Enterprise Garden competition organised in partnership with Food Growing Schools London we invited nine schools to sell their grown produce at City Hall during our School Marketplace event. Five primary and three secondary schools from eight different boroughs sold a mix of their own grown produce and products made from their fruit and vegetables (jam, chutneys, cakes, flavoured oils, potted plants, herb bouquets) on the map area at City Hall. The event was a great success and children went through the building offices to get employees to come down resulting in some of the stalls selling out in just one hour and some schools raising over £150. Boris Johnson made an appearance to the schools delight, and the feedback from pupils and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. We are working on holding a similar event in 2015.

Other highlights this quarter included:

  • Seven Growing Leaders completed training programme run for Garden Enfield.
  • Growing Health in Housing seminar held in partnership with WEN Gardens for Life project, with over 50 attendees from across UK
  • Capital Growth ran four food growing training sessions which were attended by 30 people.


Children’s Food Campaign
Contact Malcolm Clark,
Twitter @childrensfood

  • CFC 1 Honey Monster 0: our complaint about Honey Puffs marketing upheld by Advertising Standards Authority.
  • National media coverage of our figures on the impact a sugary drinks duty would have in London: launch of the Children’s Health Fund campaign.
  • GCSEs, School inspections and the London Health Commission: Trio of consultations responded to.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint we submitted about the rebranded Honey Puffs (formerly Sugar Puffs) using the term “honey goodness” in their marketing.  The publication of the ruling, together with our press release about the complaint, generated good coverage at the end of December. We have also gained valuable insight into the way the ASA treats repeat offenders and also exposed the ASA’s lack of pro-active monitoring of even the most basic of EU regulations.

In December, we published data on the impact to Londoners’ health and the potential cost savings for the NHS if a sugary drinks duty was introduced, ahead of releasing the figures for the whole of England in 2015. The story was covered on both ITV and Sky News and Malcolm was interviewed at length on BBC London.  It also marked the first public activity of our Children’s Health Fund campaign - calling for a sugary drinks duty and the revenue to be used to pay for programmes to improve children’s health and protect the environment they grow up in.  An interactive tool, allowing people to look at the impact of a duty in their borough, features as the centrepiece of the new campaign website   We thank Food Active, an initiative of the NW directors of public health, for their support with creating the website.

The Children’s Food Campaign submitted responses to two government consultations. The first was on the subject plan and assessment format for the new GCSE in cooking and nutrition.  The discussions at the CFC working party meeting in October, facilitated by Louise Davies of the Design and Technology Association, formed the basis for our response.

The Ofsted consultation on school inspections provided the opportunity to rally organisations to push for Ofsted to meet the promises it made in the School Food Plan on inspecting the dining room environment in schools, and to ask them to go further.  We worked with a small group to formulate a template submission, which the APPG on School Food then circulated and encouraged    others to submit.  A joint submission was also sent in from the Save Our School Food Standards campaign, of which we are a key member.

London Health Commission’s final report Better Health for London was published in October. As well as issuing a statement welcoming the recommendations on tackling obesity (which included consideration of a sugar tax), we also submitted a briefing to the Mayor of London's office with our formal response to the Commission’s report.


Growing Health 
Contact Maria Devereux or Sarah Williams,
Twitter @growing_health

  • Project awarded a further two years of funding from The Tudor Trust
  • Successful conference held in Bristol for community food growing projects, attended by over 50 people
  • New bimonthly newsletter launched for network members

We are very pleased that the Tudor Trust agreed to continue funding Growing Health for another two years starting in September 2015. Working with Garden Organic, this will allow us to consolidate and share information and continue the work to get community food growing more widely recognised as a vehicle for delivering health benefits. We will also continue to provide information for projects to help them look at working with the NHS or public health.

Following the success of our half day conference in April in London we organised a full day November conference in Bristol for food growing groups entitled Growing for Health – community food growing, a natural part of the health service. We had 10 speakers and over 50 delegates who as well as finding the networking very useful gained ideas and information on commissioning, how the NHS works and how to engage with it. The presentations are available to download from our website

In December we launched our first bi-monthly newsletter for all members of the Growing Health network. If you have anything relevant for future newsletters then please email You can sign up to the Growing Health network on our website.


London Food Link 
Contact: Ross Compton unless otherwise stated,
Twitter @londonfoodlink

  • The network’s weekly Electric Eel newsletter is made available to all London Food Link supporters.
  • London boroughs helped to improve their support for good food following publication of the Good Food for London report and league table.
  • Development of new campaign to create a Cage Free Capital, to be delivered over 2015

London Food Link continues to support its members and provide the latest news and opportunities within London’s sustainable food sector. As part of a wider drive to build on and increase the reach of the network, our weekly Electric Eel newsletter has now been made available to all those interested in our work and London’s sustainable food sector, as well as London Food Link members.

In addition to these ongoing activities, following the October launch of the annual Good Food for London report and London borough league table, London Food Link has provided support to London boroughs looking to improve on their performance in time for the 2015 edition.

Alongside this work London Food Link has been developing a new Cage Free Capital campaign to be delivered in 2015. The campaign will call on all purchasers of eggs in London to turn their backs on eggs produced under cruel caged methods of production and to make a switch to cage free. As part of these activities we will be calling on London’s most icon landmarks, organisations and businesses to demonstrate strong leadership by making a cage free commitment, which we will use to inspire a broader push to help achieve a cage free capital.    


Contact Charlotte Jarman or Zoe Chambers
Twitter: @foodsaveLondon

  • Over 60 London food businesses have now received or are receiving help from Sustain to tackle their food waste
  • Surplus food is being diverted to over 40 organisations in and around London, with over 800 tonnes of food per year now put to good use
  • Hundreds of Londoners gathered in Brixton to raise awareness of food waste by cooking and eating a meal made entirely from surplus food, at London’s first ever Disco Soup event

Since Sustain began work on the FoodSave project in 2013, we have completed work with almost 40 small and medium sized London food businesses (including markets, food retail outlets, wholesalers and manufacturers) to help them to reduce their food waste for the benefit of people and planet.  We are continuing to work with more than 20 further businesses, bringing the total number of businesses receiving support to over 60.

Sustain has brokered relationships between food businesses and over 40 organisations in and around London, including:

  • charities using surplus food to feed vulnerable people
  • social enterprises turning surplus produce into new products such as juices and soups
  • farms using food ‘waste’ such as manufacturing by-products as livestock feed
  • businesses using food waste in composting or anaerobic digestion

In this way, Sustain’s FoodSave team has so far ensured that over 880 tonnes per year of food that was being wasted is now being put to better use (meaning that the target for the whole project of 870 tonnes per year has already been met).

In November 2014 the FoodSave team worked together with partners Feedback (, to run London’s first ever Disco Soup event in Brixton, where hundreds of Londoners gathered to cook and eat a meal made entirely from surplus food, all with the aim of raising awareness of both the food waste issue and the FoodSave project. For more information and photographs of the event, see:  One unexpected outcome of the event was the re-opening of a dialogue with New Covent Garden Market; we are now working with the market authority to establish a regular collection of surplus food from certain traders.

FoodSave is co-ordinated by the Greater London Authority and funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the London Waste and Recycling Board and The Mayor of London.


The Jellied Eel Magazine
Contact Chris Young
Twitter @jelliedeelmag

Of the 32 fab food enterprises receiving support through the Urban Food Routes initiative, we’ve showcased three of the best, including social enterprise Mazí Mas, which offers refugee and other migrant women training and opportunities to use their cooking skills to start their own food businesses; Rejuce, which helps tackle food waste by turning ‘imperfect’ but delicious fruit and veg rejected by retailers into healthy juices; while for each meal they sell, Boss Hog Waffles funds a meal at Brixton Soup Kitchen for homeless people, to whom the company is also planning to offer training and employment opportunities.

In 2014, London Food Link and Garden Organic’s Growing Health project highlighted that regular involvement in gardening and community food-growing projects offers a range of benefits to people living with mental health problems. Our feature showed that cooking from scratch and Real Bread making can offer similar benefits.

There has been much discussion about the need to attract young people into agriculture. While some fear traditional agriculture is a dying trade, could hope for the future of farming lie in those coming through urban initiatives? We spoke to some of the people featured in the Future Farmers report, London Food Link and Growing Communities’ guide to running an urban food growing traineeship.

The image of students barely subsisting on beige ‘carbs’ is a longstanding stereotype. We discovered, however, London students taking ownership over their own food system; helping themselves and their wider communities to access nutritious, sustainable food, often grown following organic principles.

Other features looked at London’s vineyards and community winemaking schemes; local, vegetarian and other ethical options for Christmas feasting; Meat Free Mondays; how click and collect is bringing together shoppers and small, indie food producers; Horniman Farmers’ Market; and the good food offerings of Askew Road in Shepherd’s Bush.


London Food Poverty programme
Contact Abi Ramanan

The London Food Poverty campaign’s overall aim is to reduce food poverty in low-income communities in London. This will be achieved by increasing Local Authorities knowledge of food poverty in their borough, increasing best practice in Local Authorities’ food policies and working with London boroughs to increase their action to address food poverty.

The focus of this quarter has been on consulting with food poverty experts to refine a set of metrics around how to tackle long term food poverty, and particularly public sector measures and responsibilities to do this. We have been gathering the  evidence base in order to map and measure the ‘solutions’ in a format similar to the Good Food for London report to highlight where Local Authorities can have the most impact. We want to raise the profile of the following measures within London boroughs and the wider public:

  • Increasing the uptake of healthy start vouchers and/or increasing the number and diversity of retailers accepting healthy start vouchers
  • Signing up to the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative and achieving Stage 1, Stage 2 or Stage 3 accreditation
  • Increasing uptake of free school meals
  • Paying the London Living Wage, 16 Local Authorities are expected to become LLW employers over the course of the Mayoral term and 11 are currently accredited LLW employers
  • Providing good food for vulnerable older people and adults who require care via meals on wheels services
  • Mapping food access within the borough and weaving this into future planning strategies to combat food desserts

We are now planning the first London Food Poverty Campaign working group meeting for 10 February to convene experts leading on each of the five metrics to share best practice, refine the metrics and increase the effectiveness of the campaign. We are also working on the website to be launched next quarter.


Urban Food Awards
Contact Chris Young

  • The cream of London’s good food enterprises celebrated
  • Awards presented by the Mayor of London’s food tsar at gala ceremony

Having helped encourage more than 80 enterprises to enter, and over 2400 Londoners vote in the Urban Food Awards, the London Food Link team hunkered down with our Urban Food Routes partners to choose the winners.  We then supported the Mayor’s food team to ensure the awards ceremony was a success.

On Thursday 4 December 2014, London Food Board Chair Rosie Boycott announced the following winners at a stupendous shindig in Kensington:

  • Best Eatery: Stepney City Farm Café
  • Runners up: The Castle Café and Crisis Skylight Café
  • Best Educator: Made in Hackney
  • Runners up: Crisis Skylight Café and The Culinary Anthropologist
  • Best Producer: Organiclea Community Growers  
  • Runners up: Wild Card Brewery and Wildes Cheese
  • Best retailer: Brockley & Wapping Markets
  • Runners up: EAT17 and Organiclea Community Growers 
  • The People's Choice Award: Skylight Café

Other awards presented on the night:

  • Capital Growth Enterprise Award: Growing Kultur
  • Capital Growth Enterprising School Garden: Nightingale Primary School, Hackney
  • Good Food For London Best Borough: London Borough of Islington
  • London Markets Initiative Krys Zasada Memorial Award: Kingston Ancient Market

Highlights of the results of our work to promote the awards included appearing on London Live’s lunchtime show, a feature in The Guardian.


Real Bread Campaign
Contact: Chris Young
Twitter: @RealBread

  • True Loaf celebrates the many aspects of the rise of Real Bread
  • Support for the Campaign continues to grow
  • Planning ahead for 2015

In issue 21 of True Loaf, our supporters’ magazine,  articles included: a look at three rather different types of Real Bread school; a postcard on bread in Spain;  a look inside Stanway Mill; what the words used to market bread and industrial loaves really mean; and a recipe for a malted wheat and rye sourdough loaf.

Over the three months, we saw more than 300 people start or renew supporting our work, while we gained more than 600 followers on Twitter, taking the total past 21,600 people.

The quarter also saw us working up plans for 2015, including Real Bread Week in May, The Real Bread Uprising gathering in the first half of the year, Sourdough September, and our ongoing effort to secure funding for our proposed therapeutic baking project Together We Rise.


Sustainable Fish Cities
Contact Ruth Westcott
Twitter @Fishcities

  • Cardiff achieve two Sustainable Fish City stars, including pledges covering all 8 hospitals and Cardiff’s primary schools
  • A new city joins the Fish Cities campaign – Cambridge
  • New pledges were received from Durham, Lancaster and Plymouth Universities

This quarter we held a targeted campaign to engage workplaces, with mailouts to 150 large employers in Bournemouth, Brighton and Newcastle. We subsequently received pledges from LV=, Ageas, A.F.C. Bournemouth, Lloyds Banking Group, Brighton City Council, and BH Live; providing catering for over a dozen high-profile leisure centres, sports venues, music and arts venues and stadia in Bournemouth and Poole. Two Funding bids were submitted: one successful (to the John Ellerman Foundation), the other due for a decision in March 2015.


Sustainable Food Cities
Contact Hannah Laurison unless otherwise stated
Twitter: @Foodcities

  • London boroughs take a joined up approach to create a healthy, sustainable food system
  • Sustain responds to national food poverty crisis

Sustain organised an information session for London boroughs interested in setting up local food partnerships. Representatives from Enfield, Croydon, Merton, Greenwich, Sutton, Kingston, Camden, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Islington, Brent, Lambeth and Hillingdon attended the meeting. Several are actively working towards setting up local food partnerships with support from Sustain.

Sustain has taken a leadership role in responding to the national food poverty crisis. Together with our Sustainable Food City partners, Food Matters and the Soil Association, and in consultations with national food poverty experts, we are developing a food poverty campaign that promotes effective government action to reduce food poverty across the UK, echoing many of the same messages as Sustain’s London Food Poverty campaign. Sustain will work with members of the Sustainable Food City Network to implement the campaign beginning this spring.

Sustain has also continued to participate in the national dialogue around food poverty. In addition to submitting evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty, Sustain has also participated in the hearings of the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty and is advising the Big Lottery Fund on their work around poverty and basic needs. We also presented at the Making Food Fair event in Greater Manchester.

Also this quarter, Sustain organised a webinar titled ‘Shaping the food research agenda: how can local food partnerships best link with researchers’ through Sustainable Food Cities with the Food Research Collaboration. The purpose of this was to build better links between the research needs of local food partnerships and researchers and academics who can fill these needs.


Planning Food Cities
Contact Gillian Morgan

Sustain's guide for planners on using planning policy to meet strategic objectives through community food growing has received further endorsement, featuring in the Town and Country Planning Association's (TCPA) guidance on planning a healthy weight environment. TCPA point out that "planning has an important role to play in helping create high quality environments that offer opportunities for communities to make healthy choices and live healthier lives."

As part of our support to groups in the Sustainable Food Cities network, we sent the recommendations from our Guide to Plymouth City Council in response to their consultation on their local plan review. Food Plymouth compiled an extensive evidence based paper on the whole food system in the city which they submitted to Plymouth Council at the start of the review of their local plan. This will be a case study in our forthcoming online toolkit. 

Download Planning Sustainable Cities for Community Food Growing at:


Other food policy developments


2015 Elections
Contact Alex Jackson or Ben Reynolds

  • Labour party developing food policy

The Square Meal partnership, which Sustain is part of held a successful event to publicise the group’s report in October last year and is now considering its next steps, including a second breakfast event. Square Meal also held a well-attended debate at the Oxford Real Farming conference in Jan 2105.

Sustain has started compiling all the food and farming (election) policy asks of its members, with a view of publishing on our website. As well as meeting with shadow farming minister Huw Irranca-Davies, we submitted a version of this document to the Labour Party, as part of our discussions with them on the Food Policy they are drawing up in the build up to the election. We are pleased to see that many policies advocated by Sustain and members have been supported, such as reinstating the larger remit, and stronger powers, of the Food Standards Agency, and reinstating the Food 2030 strategy. There is however room for improvement as the commitments detailed in Labour’s public health strategy (launched in January 2015) do not go as far as we would like, for example falling short of supporting a sugary drinks duty.


Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics
Contact Vicki Hird,

  • Our ground-breaking event is attended by top decision makers and delivers a powerful set of presentations to influence government
  • New report shows how costly antibiotics resistance is and indicates the role of overuse in livestock
  • Government not yet setting targets but speaking more about reducing use and using management to curb disease not Antibiotics

Following the hugely successful and influential joint conference organised by Save Our Antibiotics, MEDACT and the Royal Society of Medicine (proceedings are all available here and sign on letter from Senior Medical figures which featured in the Times and  here) there have been some significant UK and EU developments. The government, in its progress report on its strategy says it wants to reduce “antimicrobial use in livestock production in real terms over the next four years” and a commitment to ensuring that the sales of the critically important antibiotics falls as a proportion of total veterinary antibiotic sales. This is useful but not enough. A new expert report, commissioned by the Prime Minister, has confirmed the huge cost to society (total global cost of antimicrobial resistance will be $100 trillion by 2050 ) of antimicrobial resistance in which livestock plays a key role. We gained media coverage on this and also met with the FSA Chief Scientific Advisor. All this is adding up to significant momentum and a valuable evidence base to use in 2015.

After the resignation of our project officer we are in a phase of planning and fundraising and hope to present the first phase, including product testing and new materials, in Spring.


Eating Better Alliance
Contact Sue Dibb

  • New report launched on attitudes to eating less meat

‘Let’s talk about meat’ was launched in December 2015, outlining the urgent reasons for reducing meat consumption and compiling the latest available evidence about people’s attitude to eating less meat, and how this might be influenced. A YouGov survey used to help inform the report found that 35% of people say they are now willing to consider eating less meat, for health, environmental and ethical reasons.


Organic Sector Development
Contact Catherine Fookes

  • Organic September boosts sales
  • Speakers confirmed for key Organic campaign event
  • Organic ads go live outside Tesco stores
  • Evaluation of 2014 campaign

During this year's Organic September, the Organic trade Board (OTB) and Sainsbury's joined forces to drive online sales of organic.  Organic Naturally Different ads appeared on Sainsbury's online shopping homepage and as shelf and bottom banners in key categories all of which clicked through to direct purchases or an ideas page with information on organic produce and further buy lists.  The results are now in and we can announce the partnership has been a great success with a significant uplift in sales.

We have confirmed some top level speakers for our Annual pledger briefing “Prosper and Grow with Organic” which will take place March 4 2015 in London. For further details about the event and to secure a ticket, visit the OTB Eventbrite page:  or contact for how to book.

Animated Organic Naturally Different (OND) adverts were live outside 72 Tesco stores around London for two weeks in December to encourage people to trade up to organic at Christmas.  The carrot, chicken and cow adverts ran right outside those Tesco stores with the highest organic sales. The new “Smartscreen” technology also allows us to increase the advertising at the time of day our targeted shoppers usually shop: which for organic shoppers is lunch time and early afternoon.    

In the last quarter we also spent time reviewing the campaign’s effectiveness in 2014 in driving growth in the organic sector:

  • Our two new adverts on beef and bread rolled out across London and received excellent persuasiveness ratings  of over 60%.
  • Our evaluation showed that organic shoppers that have seen our campaign: are increasingly inclined to think organic food is “worth it”; have a deeper understanding of the benefits of organic; and less likely to think organic is expensive.  This is significant as the campaign has gone on, it shows people are beginning to see that price of organic is a fact, not a problem.
  • Our partnerships advertising with Sainsbury’s and MySupermarket have had great results contributing to increased organic sales for our partners


UK Food Group
Contact Jean Blaylock

  • ‘Anti-land grab’ principles fail to uphold human rights
  • Sustaining the seeds that feed us – impact of policies
  • Compiling evidence for Agroecology

International principles on responsible agricultural investment were adopted by the UN in October. However civil society groups said they place corporate profit over the needs of small scale food producers and will fail to stop land and water grabbing. At the core of the objections from Civil Society is the repeated subordination of Human Rights to trade interests throughout the document. The civil society negotiating team, including the UK Food Group, had felt the principles were weak at the end of negotiations earlier in the year, and this assessment was confirmed at a forum of around 200 civil society representatives ahead of the UN meeting.

Farmers need policies that enable them to continue innovative seed development including adapting to changing environments. Current EU legislation on the marketing of seed needs to better recognise the diversity of users and seed providers. Globally, conditions placed on development aid and investment are imposing damaging seed laws on developing countries. UK Food Group took part in a meeting with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology, as part of the Great Seed Festival, to challenge decision makers to develop norms to sustain the diversity of seeds we and the planet need.

The Director General of the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation has spoken of opening a window for agroecology in the cathedral of the green revolution. UK Food Group members are trying to make sure this window stays open by collecting evidence in support of agroecology. One group of members are seeking to adapt existing M&E practices required for many projects to collect data that will both be of use to the farmers collecting it and build a body of evidence on agroecological practices. Other members are making the economic case. An international forum on agroecology will be held at the start of 2015.

email list


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

0203 5596 777

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 2018
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Site map
Data privacy & cookies