People across the UK are stepping up to change their food system. Local action takes many forms – from setting up a food project or enterprise that benefits one’s community, to starting a citizen campaign focussing on a specific issue, to bringing together local actors to work in partnership on systemic changes within the local food system. But all local action has at its core a belief that people can make a difference, and that seemingly small actions can often have wide-reaching benefits.
We are often simply described as ‘consumers’ by industry and government, but citizen and community food action is alive in all corners of the UK. Food movements are growing, motivated either by local challenges or a desire for wider systemic change, but always with the joy of sharing food that is good for people and planet.
Food growing networks are transforming urban communities. People are starting up enterprises to improve local, sustainable food access. Surplus-sharing networks and plastic-free campaigns are responding locally to the global waste crisis. Neighbours are setting up buying groups and social dining clubs to make food access more affordable and dignified. And other change-makers, including young people, are leading actions to hold decision-makers to account. Supporting this important work are local cross-sector food partnerships and campaigns, joining the dots to change policy and improve public food access.
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed just how vital local food networks are in ensuring our country recovers and thrives. Sustain works to champion joined-up local action across a breadth of food issues, from farm to fork. We do this by supporting local good food movements working with diverse communities, volunteers, activists and social enterprises to improve their local food system and to lend their voices and experience to our work nationally.
Over 60 places have Sustainable Food Partnerships – in areas that cover over 20 million people.
30 out of 33 London boroughs have improved their commitment to Good Food.
“Since food is more than nourishment, and is indeed part of who we are, it is important that a food system is not dictated or forced upon communities. Through meaningful involvement in food and health projects, local communities feel empowered and people have the opportunity to play an active role in their well-being. Introducing cooperative support in this way ensures a more sustainable and healthy food system.”
Shola Oladipo, Food for Purpose CEO and Sustain’s Sugar Smart Communities Ambassador
What we're fighting for today
Expansion of Sustainable Food Places network to support over 100 communities, working beyond cities to support counties as well, and galvanise action in these places through issue-specific campaigns.
Engagement with local authorities to support, highlight and progress their best practice in commitments to good food.
A more formalised Good Food Movement of identified food activists who can create change in their local area, and amplify their actions at a national level.
A Good food culture, supporting those who are interested in, say, baking or growing their own, or how or where to buy more sustainably.
Working with Soil Association and Food Matters, the Sustainable Food Places network supports a joined-up approach to food systems in over 60 parts of the UK.
We have supported many more communities to work on specific areas of work, including food poverty (over 22 local Food Power alliances), sugar reduction (42 Sugar Smart campaigns), increasing veg consumption (25 Veg Cities and places), community food growing (27 places on Good to Grow map).
Through London Food Link we have a well-established, impactful, world leading approach to improving urban food systems, including a network of over 3000 food growing spaces (Capital Growth), magazine with circulation of over 20,000 (Jellied Eel), and supporting the Mayor of London’s Food Board.
Our Real Bread campaign annual activities including Sourdough September and Real Bread Week regularly have thousands involved from over 60 countries.