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Cambridge receives prestigious Sustainable Food Places Gold Award

Cambridge Sustainable Food Partnership accepts the Gold award on behalf of the area's food producers, providers, advocates and residents. Cambridge becomes the third Gold Food Place in the network, alongside Brighton & Hove and Bristol.

A collage of images featuring Cambridge food projects and enterprises. Copyright: Cambridge Sustainable Food

A collage of images featuring Cambridge food projects and enterprises. Copyright: Cambridge Sustainable Food

Cambridge Sustainable Food Partnership has been awarded a prestigious Gold Award from Sustainable Food Places on behalf of the city. This award recognises Cambridge as leading the way in transforming local food systems to better serve their communities, the environment and the local economy. Cambridge is only the third place in the UK to receive this accolade.

The Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Jenny Gawthrope Wood, joined members of the Cambridge Food Partnership and wider sustainable food network on 11th March to celebrate this amazing achievement and to receive the award from Sustainable Food Places.

The award is a result of ten years’ hard work by local organisations, businesses, local authorities, volunteers and community groups, coordinated by Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC and the Cambridge Food Partnership on behalf of the city, to build a fairer, more sustainable local food system. 

This work has seen the partnership and wider network create lasting change across Cambridge, with a particular focus on food justice for local communities, and action on climate and biodiversity issues. This includes coordinating food provision through the city’s community food hubs and wider food projects; delivering surplus food to frontline services across the city and saving it from landfill; connecting communities through cooking, sharing and growing food together; running the city’s annual Food for the Planet Festival and supporting local food businesses to become more sustainable.

The Sustainable Food Places Awards is the only award scheme of its kind, and celebrates the pioneering work of places taking a holistic approach to ensuring sustainable and healthy food is available to everyone. The programme brings together over 90 food partnerships from towns, cities, boroughs, districts and counties across the UK which are taking a best practice approach to food system change. Cambridge has proved itself a leader in this group, excelling in tackling food issues such as building public awareness and a local good food movement and embedding sustainability into catering and procurement.

Sam Dyer MBE, CEO of Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC, said:

'While Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC has coordinated this bid, this achievement truly belongs to the city of Cambridge and all who live and work here. This award has been ten years in the making and reflects the commitment and actions of so many towards building a fair and sustainable food system. 

This collaborative approach has increased access to affordable good food and nurtured a food system that supports people’s health and livelihoods while protecting the planet. From the volunteers, community groups and organisations championing food justice; to all those pledging to try a ‘climate diet’ and signing the Cambridge Climate Change Charter; to our universities, food businesses, growers and workplaces promoting healthy, planet friendly produce, and the commitment and support of our local authorities - Cambridge has made huge strides in changing the local food system for the better, and this gold award is a reflection of everyone’s dedication to the cause. 

It shows what we can achieve when we work together, and we look forward to building on this fantastic achievement as we continue to work towards healthy and sustainable food for all.'

Cambridge City Council played a key role in the city’s journey to gold, supporting the development and activities of the Community Food Hubs and the Food Poverty Alliance, convened by Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC, as well as advocating for food justice by declaring Cambridge a Right to Food City. The Council’s well-established Climate Strategy and Climate Change Charter, which both include a commitment to sustainable food, and continued support for annual Food for the Planet festivals and wider campaigns, also contributed to the award achievement.

Cllr Rachel Wade, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: 

'What’s good for us is also good for the planet. By making more sustainable food choices, we are keeping ourselves healthy whilst taking action on the associated environmental impacts. 

The Gold Food Award is a testament to all of the hard work that has gone into making sure that everyone in the city can access healthy and sustainable food with dignity.

Both nationally and locally, we know that many people have been facing challenging times, sometimes having to choose between eating and heating. By working together, we hope to have eased this burden and supported our residents. It is great to see how empowered residents were to come together and take action for the better of our communities – without those that volunteered their time or made donations we wouldn’t have come this far. We still have a long way to go until we can achieve food justice for the city, but these efforts really make a difference to those struggling to put food on the table.'

Sustainable Food Places Programme Manager Leon Ballin said:

'The Sustainable Food Places Gold award is the most prestigious achievement of its kind and evidences transformational change across Cambridge’s food system. Cambridge is one of only three places in a decade to achieve this accolade and the exceptional work on food justice and climate could only come about by the city joining forces in a visionary and powerful way. I look forward to Cambridge leading the way for other places across the UK in better food for all.'

About Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC and the Food Partnership

Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC (CSF) is a non-profit organisation working to build a fairer, more sustainable food system which supports the community and the environment. CSF campaigns to achieve healthy and sustainable food for everyone; food which is good for our health, the planet, and the local economy.

CSF CIC is the lead organisation for the city’s food partnership. The Cambridge Sustainable Food Partnership is a group of strategic food leaders and progressive food organisations in Cambridge, formed as part of the Sustainable Food Places programme.

The partnership achieved a silver award, on behalf of the city, in summer 2021 and a gold award in March 2024. 

Read more about their journey to become a Gold Sustainable Food Place.

About Sustainable Food Places and Award

Sustainable Food Places is a partnership programme led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain. Award decisions are made annually by a national panel of experts and are judged on progress across six key issues, including two areas of exceptional achievement, and demonstration that the work is embedded in the local area: 

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

For more information, visit Sustainable Food Places

Alongside Cambridge, only two other places hold a Gold Award - Brighton & Hove and Bristol. The award is open to any place that has an established cross-sector food partnership in place, is a member of the Sustainable Food Places Network and is implementing an action plan on healthy and sustainable food. 

Published Wednesday 13 March 2024

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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