The Soil Association has announced an ambitious new programme backed by £1 million in funding to tackle obesity, food poverty and climate change in the UK’s cities.
The Sustainable Food Cities programme will benefit from the £1m cash pot and aims to “transform access to local, affordable and sustainable food for people across the country within 500 metres of where they live,” the organic food promotional body said in its announcement.
The project has been inspired by initiatives in Brighton, Bristol, London and Plymouth and will see 25 cities join the Sustainable Food Cities Network (SFCN) as founding members. SFCN is led by the Soil Association and food-and-farming campaigning organisations Food Matters and Sustain, and is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. It aims to be an alliance of public, private and third-sector organisations and hopes to help communities develop best practice in all aspects of sustainable food.
Six cities will be selected as examples of what cities and towns can do to transform their food culture. More than 100 urban areas across the UK are expected to join the network by the end of the three-year programme.
Tom Andrews, Soil Association programme manager for the project, said: “The Sustainable Food Cities programme is about using food to improve people’s health and wellbeing, creating new businesses and jobs and reducing our impact on the environment.
"Food is not only at the heart of some of today’s greatest challenges but is also a vital part of the solution. The SFCN will create cities where every school, hospital, restaurant and workplace canteen serve only healthy and sustainable meals; where everyone has access to affordable fresh, seasonal, local and sustainably produced food no matter where they live; and where people of all ages and backgrounds have opportunities to learn about, grow and cook food. It is about creating cities where good food is visible and celebrated in every corner and where people’s right to eat healthy and sustainable food is embedded into every relevant policy and strategy.”