The Creating a Healthy Food City Forum (CHFC) was established in 2019 and reports directly into the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB). The CHFC allows stakeholders to work together to apply a whole system approach to understanding the food landscape of the city. It consists of:
Chaired by Councillor Paulette Hamilton, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, the Forum’s main objectives are:
Birmingham set its commitment to sustainable food policy in 2015 after signing the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.
In 2017, we established the Birmingham India Nutrition Initiative. This learning partnership involves the development of food policies and practices, supporting citizens in both cities to make healthier, sustainable food choices. This unique partnership is expanding to involve cities across the Commonwealth in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham. Cities will be encouraged to join the Pact and become active members.
We also hosted the first meeting of the EUROCITIES Food working group and as a result of our participation we are now one of 11 European cities participating in the successful Horizon 2020 bid - ‘Food Trails’. This unique experience will help us develop our own food strategy and support others to develop theirs.
We are also a founding member of the Delicé network, working on a project that explores the interface of local food culture and food policy. A topic rarely explored but much needed, reflecting our own expertise of engaging seldom heard communities in our super diverse city.
In September 2019, we commissioned many seldom heard food conversations, using focus groups to engage with hard to reach communities. In October, we welcomed Henry Dimbleby and his National Food Strategy team to Birmingham as they began their review of the current food system. We also launched the Birmingham Food Conversation – a citywide survey to better understand the food system, influences and barriers.
In the wake of COVID-19 and the UK’s exit from the EU, the forum paused work on its proposed city-wide food strategy to focus on an interim emergency food plan. In February 2021, approx. 40 colleagues from across the city’s food network came together to discuss the immediate need of citizens and contribute towards the content of the plan.
Work on the proposed city-wide food strategy will resume in Spring 2021 and will encompass eight themes; Food Production, Food Transformation, Food Logistics/Supply Chains, Food Retail – Home, Food Retail – Out of Home, Recycling & Waste, Food beliefs & behaviours, Data and Evidence.
At present, our strongest areas are partnership and collaboration, but we are beginning to move into other spaces as outlined in our strategy themes above.
We would welcome the opportunity to learn from other partnerships and would view this as a reciprocal relationship.
Outside of the categories above, Birmingham has experience in international food and nutrition partnerships, such as Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and BINDI – the Birmingham India Nutrition Initiative.