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Sustainable Food Places network urges Government to invest in local food economies

Food partnerships from across the UK convene alongside MPs in Parliament to call on Government to invest in local food economies, shorter supply chains, and community food access. The event showcases the innovative role of food partnerships in transforming their local economies and communities through the power of food.

Investing in a Better Food Future Event. . Credit: Mara Galeano Carraro

Investing in a Better Food Future Event. . Credit: Mara Galeano Carraro

A network of over 90 local food leaders from the Sustainable Food Places network will convene with MPs in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 14 June to chart national and local action towards a better food future. They are calling for greater investment in local food economies, nature-friendly farming and access to healthy food for all as part of tackling the most pressing issues in our food system, including food insecurity, supply chain disruption, and the climate and nature emergency.

Scottish Government has passed a Good Food Nation Bill, and Welsh Government is funding food partnerships in every local area. But no such commitments exist in England or Northern Ireland. In England, the UK Government has not acted on most of the National Food Strategy, and has recently abandoned plans for a Horticulture Strategy.

Sustainable Food Places Local Action Coordinator Vera Zakharov said:

Food Partnerships are true local trailblazers, taking innovative approaches to build better and more resilient supply chains, create good food jobs and bring communities together over healthy, sustainable food. In the absence of a joined-up Government Food Strategy, food partnerships are showing locally and regionally what should be scaled up nationally. It is time that the Government recognises their contribution by committing a Food Bill in every nation and a food partnership in every area in the UK.

Sustainable Food Places Programme Lead Leon Ballin from the Soil Association said:

This will be the biggest turnout to date for our partnership leaders and they want to send a clear message to government that they have a significant role to play in steering a resilient approach to food policy, security and healthy communities. They each have a track record of delivering robust strategies which engage local government, communities and businesses to build successful and sustainable partnerships.

We are very grateful for the MPs who have supported the SFP network so far, but it is now time for the government to step up and invest in this proven model to ensure the UK’s long-term food security and to share best practice on all aspects of healthy and sustainable food for all.

Patricia Gibson MP, SNP spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs & MP for North Ayrshire & Arran said:

Food partnerships are perfectly placed to share best practice and offer good food solutions to so many issues we face today. From attracting regeneration investment to offering long-term solutions to food insecurity, food partnerships are the local innovators that hold the key to a better food future. 

In Scotland, the Government has shown commitment to supporting a healthier, more sustainable, and locally driven food system through the Good Food Nation Bill. The Bill requires all local authorities to produce a local food strategy that supports local producers and there’s no doubt that food partnerships will be a critical part of this process. It’s time for Westminster to follow Scotland’s example.

Pearl Costello, Food Cardiff Coordinator, said:

It’s an exciting time for food partnerships in Wales. Food Cardiff was Wales’ first Sustainable Food Place and is now one of nine SFPs in Wales, meaning that 50% of the population currently lives within an area served by the network. The Welsh Government’s commitment of £2.5 million to develop and strengthen cross-sector food partnerships in each local authority is also growing the Good Food movement, helping to build resilience through the coordination of on the ground, food-related activity. 

The growth of food partnerships across the whole of Wales is also encouraging collaboration through the development of this flourishing food network. This type of intervention and financial commitment is key if we want to create a food system that benefits the health, economy, sustainability and social prosperity of local communities.

The event will shine a spotlight on the role food partnerships play in attracting funding and investment, delivering growth in the food sector,  and access to good food for all. Initiatives supported and led by these partnerships have a track record of meaningful and long-lasting benefits, whether through changing local policy, or creating a culture of community engagement and education around good food.

Speakers include:

  • Keynote speaker: Patricia Gibson MP, North Ayrshire & Arran, Scottish National Party Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Keynote speaker: Daniel Zeichner MP, Cambridge, Shadow Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries
  • Kath Dalmeny, Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming
  • David Catterall, Bury Food Partnership
  • Pearl Costello, Food Cardiff and Food Sense Wales
  • Gavin Fletcher, Good Food Leicestershire
  • Emily Harvey, Forth Valley Food Futures
  • Leon Ballin, Sustainable Food Places

Published 14 Jun 2023

Sustainable Food Places: The Sustainable Food Places Network helps people and places share challenges, explore practical solutions and develop best practice on key food issues, so if you are working to drive positive food change or are interested in developing a programme, please do get in touch.

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