Food Governance and Strategy

Taking a strategic and collaborative approach to good food governance and action.

We believe that to transform a place’s food culture and food system requires a joined-up strategic approach and committed long-term collaboration between individuals and organisations across every sector and at every level, from community grassroots and third sector organisations to businesses and council leaders. Key to achieving this are: a strong cross-sector food partnership and an inspiring and ambitious food vision backed by a clear strategy and action plan.

SFP Toolkit
Most of the local examples of best practice as well as the guides and tools supporting delivery of this Key Issue, can be found in the SFP Toolkit. It has been developed by the Sustainable Food Places team learning from the best practice across the SFP Network.

Open Toolkit

Establish a broad, representative and dynamic local food partnership

The ‘Building a food partnership’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the pink section – contains resources to help you establish an appropriate and representative food partnership. In particular these resources will be useful:

Get the right people involved by encouraging and planning Stakeholder engagement and steering groups

Facilitate community participation and build representation through Community food mapping and Food focus group facilitation

Have a look at the SFP members' dashboards for examples of local cross-sector food partnerships.

The ‘Building a food partnership’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the pink section – contains resources to help you establish an appropriate and representative food partnership. In particular these resources will be useful:

Establish partnership governance by facilitating a Terms of Reference workshop based on a Terms of Reference survey and by exploring different Food partnership structures and using the Organisational structures & legal status guide

Facilitate community participation and build representation through Community food mapping, Food focus group facilitation, Food group workshops and Steering group workshops

Regularly review the partnership to ensure it remains fit for purpose and as effective as possible by using the SFP Health Check and following the Health Check Guide

Ensure that the partnership is robust and sustainable by following advice in the Financial sustainability guide

Belfast Food Network – Housed in the Third Sector

Sustainable Food Partnership Aberdeen - Housed in the Third Sector

Sustainable Food City Bournemouth and Poole - Housed in the Public Sector

Bristol Food Network CIC - Independent Partnership (For Articles of Association look at the filing entry for 9th Jan 2014 - Incorporation of a CIC

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership - Independent Partnership (For Articles of Association look at filing entry for 3rd Oct 2017 – Resolution of adoption of articles of association)

Food Plymouth CIC - Independent Partnership (For Articles of Association look at filing entry for 7th Oct 2014 – Incorporation of a CIC)

Lambeth Food Partnership - Independent Partnership (For Articles of Association look at filing entry for 24th March 2014 – Incorporation – model articles adopted)

Good Food Oxford - Independent Partnership (For Articles of Association look at filing entry for 6th Oct 2017 – Incorporation)

The ‘Building a food partnership’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the pink section – contains resources to help you establish an appropriate and representative food partnership. In particular these resources will be useful:

Build an understanding of the local policy context related to food through Food policy mapping as the basis for Engaging local authorities

Take a look at the Local Policy section for examples of recognition and endorsement of the local food partnership and its work by key strategic bodies.

The ‘Building a food partnership’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the pink section – contains resources to help you establish an appropriate and representative food partnership. In particular these resources will be useful:

Set out the action you will take and the targets you intend to meet in becoming a robust food partnership by Developing a partnership Work Plan and by setting up distinct working groups as part of a Steering group workshop

Download our Good Policy for Good Food Guide


Bristol Food Policy Council secured strong references to food in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The HWB has a key strategic aim to use ‘our combined influence and commissioning to support work to tackle obesity, nutritional deficiency and food poverty’. The Health and Wellbeing Strategy has 10 key priorities, one of which is food (page 5). The aim is ‘to create a healthier, more sustainable, more resilient food system for the city to benefit the local economy and the environment’.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has recognised healthy and sustainable food in a number of city policies and strategies including the new Health & Wellbeing Strategy which highlights the role of food environments and commercial determinants of health (section 4.1). It commits to ‘make the borough a place that provides an environment, services and support to enable people of all ages to eat good, healthy food and to be physically active as part of their daily lives.’

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership has worked to ensure that food poverty, obesity, mental health and food are all included within the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment. The JSNA identifies opportunities in: 'Local partnership and vibrant community food sector' and '‘Whole city’ approach, eg. Food Strategy, ‘Veg Cities’ and ‘Gold Sustainable Food City’ bid.' Healthy weight and good nutrition are also seen as priority areas within the local Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Bristol Food Policy Council made persistent representations during consultations on Bristol City Council planning policies which have resulted in a number of references to food and food systems within the Site Allocations and Development Management policies (see page 28) as well as a requirement for Health Impact Assessment.

Carlisle City Council’s Local Plan includes a commitment to ’protect and promote the role of community food growing spaces including allotments, community orchards and community gardens… as part of Carlisle’s role as a Food City.’ (p56.). Their 2013-18 Plan also highlights their commitment to support and develop the Food City Partnership.

Glasgow City Council Strategic Plan 2017 – 2022 includes a priority to ‘Support the development of Glasgow as a Sustainable Food City’ (p 19).

The Mayor of London together with the London Food Board have published the London Food Strategy. This high-profile strategy backed by the Mayor acknowledges the impact that cities and Mayors can have in leading food system change. The introduction to the strategy references SFP Silver Award whilst later on all local authorities are encouraged to join the SFP Network (p28).

IPBES. 2019. Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES https://zenodo.org/record/3553579#.XwL-oufTUdU

Recommendations across the food system and on a city and regional level include:

“A combination of bottom-up and city-level efforts, by public and private, community and Government partnerships can be effective in promoting low-cost and locally-adapted solutions to maintaining and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services” Page 43

“Options that address and engage other actors in food systems (including the public sector, civil society and consumers, grassroot movements) include participatory on-farm research, promotion of low-impact and healthy diets and localization of food systems.” Page 42

 

Faculty of Public Health. March 2019. 'Sustainable Food Systems for a Healthier UK: A discussion paper.'  https://www.fph.org.uk/media/2409/sustainable-food-systems-for-a-healthier-uk-final.pdf

The paper discusses the relevance and importance of food systems to population health within the UK. It asks the public health community to take a broad focus on food within policy, advocacy, research, programmes and interventions. It mentions the Sustainable Food Cities programme suggesting that 'place-based strategies and partnership approaches have potential to create more sustainable food systems and to engage people and organisations shifting towards healthy and sustainable food systems at a local level'. p12

 

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. June 2020. 'A Resilient UK Food System’. 8 pages https://post.parliament.uk/research-briefings/post-pn-0626/

The report advocates for a joined-up coordinated approach to achieving a more resilient food system and encourages ‘taking a broader systems-approach that cuts across government departments’. Further recommendations include the creation of an independent public body to transform the food system and monitor progress.

Food Research Collaboration. May 2020. 'Coordination must be key to how governments respond to COVID-19 food impacts: a view from England'. City, University of London. https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2020/may/new-cross-goverment-committee-needed-coordinate-food-policy-covid19-crisis

Having found that at least 16 different departments (plus numerous public bodies) are involved in making important decisions affecting food policy at national level in England, the researchers argue for the need for 'more systemic approaches to policy-making demanded by the food system’s complex and interlinked challenges.'. It calls for a cross-government committee to coordinate decision-making on food during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

 

Vermeulen S, Park T, Khoury CK, Mockshell J, Béné C, Thi HT, Heard B, Wilson B. 2019. Changing diets and transforming food systems. CCAFS Working Paper No. 282. Wageningen, the Netherlands: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). https://ccafs.cgiar.org/publications/changing-diets-and-transforming-food-systems#.XqABk5nTUdV

“Several commentators recognize the city as a key level of governance to unlock food system transformation (Garnett et al., 2015; Gladek et al., 2016; Vermeulen et al., 2019), and here we see new collaborations between civil society and local government. For instance, C40 Cities, a global network of mayors of 96 cities that account for a quarter of global GDP, works with civil society organizations in four areas (Bailey, personal communication): food production (urban agriculture to supply fresh vegetables but also to mitigate urban heat island effects), food procurement (a large city like Sao Paulo supplies 3 million public sector meals a day, in worker canteens, hospitals, schools and prisons), food distribution (largely municipal markets) and food waste (working with community groups to redistribute food, or to use it for animal feed or composting). Cities such as Bandung (Case study 5), Turin and Cusco cherish – and capitalize on – their global reputations for citizen-led sustainable food movements.”

NHS England. September 2019. 'Putting Health into Place'. Healthy New Towns programme. https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/innovation/healthy-new-towns/

The Design, Deliver and Manage, third publication, specifically advises creating a local food partnership, adopting a whole systems approach and references Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, Good Food Oxford and the Sugar Smart campaign.

Sanderson Bellamy, A. and T Marsden. 2020. 'A Welsh Food System Fit for Future Generations'. Cardiff University https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-03/WWF_Full%20Report_Food_Final_3.pdf

The report recommends taking an integrated approach to the Wales food system. 'Thinking systemically and at an interdisciplinary level can help ensure that challenges are tackled from multiple perspectives and in a holistic way.' It also highlights the goals of developing a food system strategy for Wales.

Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA). 2020. 'A sustainable food system for the European Union'. European Commission. https://www.sapea.info/topics/sustainable-food/

The EU's top scientists recommend 'Adopting a systems-based approach [that] helps recognise synergies and trade-offs, moving beyond linear ‘farm-to-fork’ approaches, to more circular, inclusive systems. The approach also seeks connections across the food system, including waste reduction and stimulating healthier diets' (p13). The Sustainable Food Cities Network is one of 8 case studies of good practice from across the EU to accelerate the transition towards sustainable food systems.

FAO. April 2020. Urban food systems and COVID-19: The role of cities and local governments in responding to the emergency. FAO. 6 pages http://www.fao.org/3/ca8600en/CA8600EN.pdf

The FAO calls for ‘Establishing or strengthening multi-stakeholder and multi-sectorial food governance mechanisms at the level of the local-municipal governments (e.g. Food Policy Councils or similar entities) for promoting structured and interconnected actions including those in cases of emergency.’ (p5) As part of its recommendations for Medium and long-term actions to strengthen urban food systems’ resilience.

 

International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems. June 2016. ‘From Uniformity to Diversity: A Paradigm Shift from Industrial Agriculture to Agroecological Systems’. IPES-Food. 96 pages. http://www.ipes-food.org/images/Reports/UniformityToDiversity_FullReport.pdf  

IPES recommends that ‘these forms of food systems planning must be based on broad participation. Taking inspiration from municipal and city-level food policy councils, these processes should reach across constituencies, bringing together agriculture, health, environment and other interest groups with a stake in food systems reform’ (p73).

IPES-Food. 2017. ‘Unravelling the Food–Health Nexus: Addressing practices, political economy, and power relations to build healthier food systems.’ The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and IPES-Food. 120pages

https://futureoffood.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/FoodHealthNexus_Full-Report_FINAL.pdf

Leverage point 1 recommends: ‘Food systems thinking must be promoted at all levels, i.e., we must systematically bring to light the multiple connections between different health impacts, between human health and ecosystem health, between food, health, poverty, and climate change, and between social and environmental sustainability. Only [then] can we adequately assess the priorities, risks, and trade-offs underpinning our food systems.’

Leverage point 2 recommends: ‘Policy processes must be up to the task of managing the complexity of food systems and the systemic health risks they generate. Integrated food policies and food strategies are required to overcome the traditional biases in sectoral policies ‘

‘A range of actors — policymakers, big and small private sector firms, healthcare providers, environmental groups, consumers’ and health advocates, farmers, agri-food workers, and citizens — must collaborate and take shared ownership in this endeavour.’

Masters R, Anwar E, Collins B, et al. 2017. ‘Return on investment of public health interventions:a systematic review’. J Epidemiol Community Health 10.1136/jech-2016-208141. 9 pages

http://jech.bmj.com/content/jech/early/2017/03/07/jech-2016-208141.full.pdf

This review, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), set out to determine the return on investment (ROI) from a range of existing public health interventions. Amongst other results, the report finds that the interventions on the wider determinants of health averaged a fivefold return on investment and highlights the “cross-sector flow problem: cost-effective public health programmes may not be commissioned if decision-makers are only looking through a narrow health lens.” (p6)

Graziano da Silva, José. Speech delivered at the third meeting of mayors of cities of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. Valencia. 20 October 2017. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57930#.We2k14hrwdU

The Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for innovative partnerships of local actors, civil society, private sector and academic and producer organisations to develop food strategies to overcome food waste and ensure a healthy and nutritious diet for all. He added the need for greater coordination between food and energy policies, and those regarding water, health, transport and waste in line with the New Urban Agenda, adopted in October 2016.

PHE. March 2017. ‘Strategies for Encouraging Healthier ‘Out of Home’ Food Provision A toolkit for local councils working with small food businesses’ Public Health England. 63 pages. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/encouraging-healthier-out-of-home-food-provision  

‘Strategic partnerships across relevant local council departments (for example, planning, economic development and public health), as well as with external agencies and the local community can add value to interventions’. (Toolkit p20)

Get involved in a campaign

SFP members

Organisations

Sustainable Food Places - our Toolkit contains guides and tools supporting food partnership building and food strategy development

 

Develop, deliver and monitor a food strategy/action plan

The ‘Developing a food strategy’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the blue section – contains resources to help you develop a sustainable food vision and strategy. In particular these resources will be useful:

Develop an overview of your food system, explore different perspectives, facilitate participation and develop a representative strategy through: carrying out Food system mapping and Food surveys, holding Food Summits, carrying out Community food mapping, Food focus group facilitation, using the Leapfrog Food Stories Toolbox and facilitating Food group workshops and Steering group workshops

The ‘Building a food partnership’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the pink section – also contains relevant resources to help you develop a vision and Food Charter.

In particular these resources will be useful:

Determine a shared purpose, aims and work plan by Developing a Vision & Food Charter and Developing a partnership Work Plan

The ‘Review and refresh’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the purple section – contains resources to help you measure impact, refresh the strategy and ensure that the partnership is working effectively. In particular these resources will be useful:

Measure impact and update the food strategy regularly by carrying out a Strategy review and refresh

Regularly review the partnership to ensure it remains fit for purpose and as effective as possible by using the SFP Health Check and following the Health Check Guide

The ‘Developing a food strategy’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the blue section – contains resources to help you develop a sustainable food vision and strategy. In particular these resources will be useful:

Develop an action plan to deliver the food strategy in an inclusive, participatory and collaborative way through following suggestions in the Action planning guide and facilitating Action planning workshops

Leicester City Council has included a question on food insecurity in the local Health and Wellbeing Surveys of 2015 and 2018. Q26/ Have you been affected by any of the following in the last 12 months? Difficulties affording to buy food.

Making the case for a systems approach to healthy and sustainable food is a draft tool that can help to measure progress against key health, economic and environmental outcomes – using proxy indicators. It can also be used to help demonstrate the effectiveness of your approach.

Brighton & Hove City Council has, in recent years, been including a question on food/fuel poverty in their annual weighted survey of residents contributing to knowledge gathering on local food issues. It asks “Thinking about the next year, how much do you agree or disagree that you will have enough money, after housing costs, to meet basic living costs? By this I mean to pay for food, water and heating?”. This greatly contributes to effectively measure household food insecurity and has also informed their Food Poverty, Diet and Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).

Bristol City Council includes in its Quality of Life survey a question relating to respondents’ consumption of fruit and vegetables.

The ‘Building a food partnership’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the pink section – contains resources to help you develop a food partnership based on a shared vision. In particular these resources will be useful:

Determine a shared purpose and aims by Developing a Vision and Food Charter

The ‘Developing a food strategy’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the blue section – contains resources to help you develop a sustainable food vision and strategy. In particular these resources will be useful:

Promoting the partnership’s identity is an important aspect of a Communications Strategy

A number of cities have created an overarching brand for their sustainable food programmes including: Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and Oxford.

Parsons K, Hawkes C. Brief 4: Embedding Food in All Policies. In: Rethinking Food Policy: A Fresh Approach to Policy and Practice. London: Centre for Food Policy; 2019. https://www.city.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/493625/7643_Brief-4_Embedding_food_in_all_policies_WEB_SP.pdf

In the UK, the Sustainable Food Cities network embodies a system through which cities, towns and boroughs approach challenges through the lens of good food.' 'An example of its FiAP [Food in All Policies] approach is offering public health policymakers and professionals support to create a “place-based systems approach to healthy and sustainable food'.

Sanderson Bellamy, A. and T Marsden. 2020. 'A Welsh Food System Fit for Future Generations'. Cardiff University https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-03/WWF_Full%20Report_Food_Final_3.pdf

The report recommends taking an integrated approach to the Wales food system. 'Thinking systemically and at an interdisciplinary level can help ensure that challenges are tackled from multiple perspectives and in a holistic way.' It also highlights the goals of developing a food system strategy for Wales.

IPES-Food. 2017. ‘Unravelling the Food–Health Nexus: Addressing practices, political economy, and power relations to build healthier food systems.’ The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and IPES-Food. 120pages https://futureoffood.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/FoodHealthNexus_Full-Report_FINAL.pdf

IPES recommends: ‘Policy processes must be up to the task of managing the complexity of food systems and the systemic health risks they generate. Integrated food policies and food strategies are required to overcome the traditional biases in sectoral policies ‘

‘A range of actors — policymakers, big and small private sector firms, healthcare providers, environmental groups, consumers’ and health advocates, farmers, agri-food workers, and citizens — must collaborate and take shared ownership in this endeavour.’

Graziano da Silva, José. Speech delivered at the third meeting of mayors of cities of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. Valencia. 20 October 2017. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57930#.We2k14hrwdU

The Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for innovative partnerships of local actors, civil society, private sector and academic and producer organisations to develop food strategies to overcome food waste and ensure a healthy and nutritious diet for all. He added the need for greater coordination between food and energy policies, and those regarding water, health, transport and waste in line with the New Urban Agenda, adopted in October 2016.

Get involved in a campaign

SFP members

Alisa test (Alisashire)

Organisations

Sustainable Food Places - our Toolkit contains guides and tools supporting food partnership building and food strategy development

Resources

Latest resources

What you can do

The ‘Developing a food strategy’ theme of the SFP Toolkit – the blue section – contains resources to help you develop a sustainable food vision and strategy. In particular these resources will be useful:

Develop an action plan to deliver the food strategy in an inclusive, participatory and collaborative way through following suggestions in the Action planning guide and facilitating Action planning workshops

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Guides & toolkits

Sustain's Food and Covid-19: How local authorities can support recovery and resilience report highlights three key areas that contribute to a strong local response: principles, processes and partnerships.

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Local Policies

Bristol Food Policy Council secured strong references to food in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The HWB has a key strategic aim to use ‘our combined influence and commissioning to support work to tackle obesity, nutritional deficiency and food poverty’. The Health and Wellbeing Strategy has 10 key priorities, one of which is food (page 5). The aim is ‘to create a healthier, more sustainable, more resilient food system for the city to benefit the local economy and the environment’.

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