Healthy Food for All

Tackling food poverty, diet related ill-health and access to affordable healthy food.

We believe good food is a right not a privilege and that everyone should be able to eat healthily every day, no matter who they are, what they do or where they live. Key to achieving this are: ensuring all those in danger of going hungry or suffering malnutrition are able to access nutritious food while working to address the underlying causes of food poverty; raising awareness of what constitutes a healthy diet and giving people the skills, resources and support needed to feed themselves well; and changing people’s food environment - from institutional settings to high streets - to ensure affordable healthy food is available and accessible to all.

Tackling Food Poverty

Belfast Food Network's report Enough is Enough: Why we urgently need to tackle food poverty in Belfast looked into why use of food banks has increased in the city and made recommendations for a collaborative response to food poverty. An updated Food Poverty Plan review was published in 2018.

Birmingham Food Council looks at a city-level response to food insecurity in this report submitted to the APPG on Hunger and Food Poverty

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership have produced a case study which looks at how the partnership developed a city-wide food poverty action plan, from the initial reflections on poverty in the city to the ways of measuring the success of the plan. The first progress report shows a 93% success rate in first three years of Food Poverty Action Plan.

Food Power have collated a selection of food poverty action plans and needs assessments that have been published by food poverty alliances across the UK.

Food Cardiff Council (p12) is working with a range of organisations and partnerships, such as the Cardiff Welfare Reform Group, who are tackling the wider determinants of poverty. The Business Group of Food Cardiff Council is itself taking a lead in developing a coordinated response to food poverty, bringing together all key bodies needed to develop an effective response in both the short and the long term.

Bristol City Council’s Food Poverty report ‘What does the evidence tell us?’ provides a concise overview of food poverty and nutrition issues in the city.

Oxford’s Feeding the Gaps is a community-led analysis of food poverty and food surplus redistribution.

London’s Zero Hunger City report investigates the scale and causes of food poverty and presents a range of suggestions for its alleviation.

The Food and Fun programme piloted by Food Cardiff provides a lifeline for families facing the lack of food provision for children during the summer holidays. Following its huge success the programme is now being rolled out in fifteen local authorities across Wales with a £500,000 grant from Welsh Government.

Meals on Wheels Carlisle is an innovative service working to get ‘hearty, healthy, locally-produced food’ to some of Carlisle’s most vulnerable people.

Hertfordshire Independent Living Service provides what used to be the Meals on Wheels service as well as a range of other services to support independent living for the elderly. 

Leeds City Council has developed a toolkit to help schools and caterers to increase the uptake of free school meals.

Sheffield City Council provides a list and map of lunch clubs for vulnerable and socially isolated older people.

Welsh Government Primary School free breakfast initiative provides children with the opportunity of receiving a free, healthy breakfast at school each day.

Devon County Council have produced a briefing on food poverty and schools which looks at breakfast clubs, holiday schemes and other support schemes available.

Public Health in Greenwich convened a steering group to coordinate activities to promote uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers (p8). Midwives now sign registration forms for all women (income eligibility is determined by the Department for Work and Pensions once the form is submitted). Healthy Start vitamins are free to all pregnant women. The steering group has mapped the location of Healthy Start retailers and encouraged more than 100 local shops to become authorised (including street traders and local fruit & veg box schemes).

Good Food in Greenwich's Holiday Hunger report looks at meal provision for families during the school holidays and makes recommendations for further action. 

Launched in 2012, the local Brighton & Hove Living Wage Campaign aims to encourage local businesses to voluntarily pay all employees a Living Wage with 600 local businesses signed up, including the City Council. The campaign is led and managed by Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce and currently funded by Brighton & Hove City Council and Unison.

Lambeth Council became a living wage employer in November 2012 and estimate that this could mean an increase of £86.55 for a standard working week for those aged 21 or over whilst being good for employers because of increased staff performance. The Council encourages other Lambeth employers to adopt the living wage by listing them on a local map and giving them discounted advertising rates in the local magazine.

The Living wage is paid by the two of the largest employers in Cardiff (p13) (circa 28,000 people): City of Cardiff Council and NHS Wales (which includes Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales). Cardiff Council’s ambition is to make Cardiff a ‘Living Wage City’ and to this end have announced early 2018 that they are financially supporting employers by offering to pay up to 3 years of accreditation fees. The maximum support is £720 depending on the size of the organisation.

Cambridge City Council is an accredited Living Wage Employer and employs an officer 3 days per week to sign up local businesses to the Living Wage.

Bristol’s The Matthew Tree Project provides an individualised food poverty service for residents using a social enterprise training and distribution model.

Bristol's Lockleaze Food Alliance worked with a designer and illustrator to produce Unlocked: A guide to avoiding food poverty in Lockleaze.

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership provides food poverty advice and resources for advisors and health professionals. The guidance includes emergency food provision as well as emphasising the importance of advice services in helping to deal with the underlying issues. There is also signposting to longer term community solutions such as places to learn about basic cookery skills; lunch clubs and buying groups, plus budget healthy eating advice – including budget eating leaflets & webpages produced by BHFP.

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 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 has also informed their Food Poverty, Diet and Health Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA).

Good Food Oxford tried to understand the Extent, nature and drivers of food poverty in Oxford and how it could engage with residents in the most deprived neighbourhoods.

Lambeth Larder have published a reference booklet for local & emergency food which contains an up to date list of locations and hours of food banks, resources for saving money and budgeting, food growing and more. 

Oxford City Council, Feeding The Gaps and Good Food Oxford have collaborated to create a map and database of services providing free or subsidised food within Oxford.

Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network developed a Referral Guide and Directory as part of a wider project to improve coordination and awareness of sources of hardship support as well as raise awareness about poverty and welfare reform with front line health workers and its impact on health inequalities.

Food Power resources on ‘Mapping and measuring food poverty’, ‘Developing food poverty action plans’.

Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty's report Hungry for Change asks how a fairer food system can be built that works better for people on low incomes.

Walking the breadline: the scandal of food poverty in 21st century Britain (Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam) provides a detailed analysis of food poverty issues.

London Food Link’s annual Beyond the Food Bank report assesses London boroughs’ responses to food poverty. 

Food Up Front published a report drawing lessons from Canada where charitable food providers have gone beyond the provision of food aid to engaging people in food poverty in advocacy.

Time to Count the Hungry, a report from the UK Food Poverty Alliance argues that this measure could be used to monitor the problem as part of existing social and health surveys. 

Food Power resources on ‘Meals on Wheels: Good practice case studies’, ‘Ensuring children’s access to food 365 days a year’, ‘Making the most of Healthy Start’, ‘ The role of community food retail’.

Sustain has produced and collated a range of resources on supporting and enhancing meals on wheels provision.

Brighton and Hove have produced a handy 'how to’ booklet on breakfast clubs, listing practical ideas based on findings from local research. They have also produced 'Eating Together' a study to understand the role of shared meals in reducing longer-term or 'chronic' food poverty.

The APPG on School Food’s Holiday Hunger Task Group published the Filling The Holiday Gap Update Report 2015 outlining holiday provision activity in the UK and making further recommendations as to how central and devolved government could support future activities.

The Association of Convenience Stores has launched an animation to help get more shops registered to accept Healthy Start vouchers. 

TLG’s (Transforming Lives for Good) Make Lunch programme supports churches to provide free, healthy, cooked food during the holidays for pupils who usually receive free school meals.

Living Wage Foundation provides advice and support to employers and service providers implementing the Living Wage including a Local Authority Toolkit and a Living Wage Places Toolkit.

Child Poverty Action Group and the Living Wage Foundation's practical guide aims to help local authorities in London become accredited Living Wage employers.  

Joseph Rowntree Foundation is developing a Minimum Income Standard which aims to set a benchmark for what is an acceptable income for different groups in the UK.

The Living Wage: Questions and Answers report (National Assembly for Wales) presents the costs and benefits of adopting the Living Wage.

Download our Good Policy for Good Food Guide

The local authority can work with local partners to adopt a Food Poverty Action Plan. Food Power have collated a range of food poverty action plans (www.sustainweb.org/foodpoverty/actionplans/) and needs assessments from across the UK.


Belfast City Council initially funded Belfast Food Network (BFN) recognising the role it could play in tackling food poverty. BFN subsequently set up the multi-agency Food Poverty Working Group, including the Council and other key stakeholders, to coordinate action locally. This included undertaking a baseline study and developing a strategic response to food poverty through the Enough is Enough initiative. (p7)

Tower Hamlets Council ran a whole systems stakeholder event to explore the challenges around food poverty and opportunities to address them across five key areas of the local food poverty action plan: integrating food poverty into the corporate action plan, food growing, access to more fresh food, education and tackling hunger. (p9) 

The local authority can recognise and respond to the issue of food poverty and access to healthy sustainable food in a range of local plans and strategies.


Aberdeen City Council’s - ‘Local Outcome Improvement Plan’ (LOIP) (p.50-51) includes:

Driver: ‘Sustainable food provision in Aberdeen, tackling food poverty, developing community food skills and knowledge and delivering sustainable food provision.’

Improvement Measure/Aim(s):

  • Increase holiday meal provision for children entitled to free school meals
  • Reduce number of people affected by Household Food Insecurity.

Bournemouth Borough Council’s Environment and Regeneration Service Plan (p2) includes food stating that: ‘Environment and Regeneration Services are working closely with the Council’s Public Health function to reduce health inequalities caused by fuel poverty and lack of access to healthy sustainable food’.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Financial Inclusion Strategy includes food poverty with a focus on how to support financially excluded residents. It designates the Food Partnership as its primary partner in the delivery.

Food poverty, obesity and food are all included within the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

  • Brighton & Hove’s Economic Strategy 2018-2023 includes in the section ‘Existing activities we will support and build on’: ‘Brighton & Hove’s Food Poverty Action Plan also innovates, supporting pro-active and preventative measures to ensure that people in, or in danger of food poverty can access healthy food’. (p37)

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has recognised the role of Food Cardiff in bringing about positive change to residents’ health through food in the What Matters Strategy: ‘Access to affordable healthy food helps tackle challenges ranging from obesity to food poverty and the work undertaken by Food Cardiff and other partners has helped to inform policy within the Cardiff & Vale UHB’. (p39)

In Northern Ireland, the Public Health strategy 2013-2023, Making Life Better (p109) has a substantial healthy food component, with a specific emphasis on interventions to tackle food poverty in the city.

Oldham Council’s Local Plan (p18) includes ‘fair access to healthy food’ as a key strand through a commitment of Oldham institutions to improve living standards.

Oxfordshire Health & Wellbeing Board’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment includes sections on fast food outlets, food banks, food poverty and healthy eating: http://mycouncil.oxfordshire.gov.uk/documents/s41390/HWB_MAR2218R15%20-%20Joint%20Strategic%20Needs%20Assessment%20JSNA.pdf

Oxford City Council’s Health Plans for Regeneration Areas incorporate plans for accessing healthy food and addressing food poverty: e.g. Barton Healthy New Town project places healthy eating and food poverty at the centre of its priorities. https://www.oxford.gov.uk/downloads/file/3670/barton_healthy_new_town_health_plan

Lambeth Council’s financial resilience strategy 2016-2019 requires that a group of statutory agencies, food banks, food charities and advice and support providers meet regularly to address food poverty aspects of the strategy.

The local authority can pay the Living Wage to its staff employed and contractors. Promoting it to local employers and suppliers can make a significant impact on residents’ income and prevent in-work poverty.


Brent Council offers business rate reductions for businesses signing up to Living Wage.

Cardiff Council is a Living Wage employer with an ambition to make Cardiff a ‘Living Wage City’ and to this end announced in early 2018 that they are financially supporting employers by offering to pay up to three years of accreditation fees.

Lambeth Council became a living wage employer in November 2012 and estimate that this could mean an increase of £86.55 for a standard working week for those aged 21 or over whilst being good for employers because of increased staff performance. The Council encourages other Lambeth employers to adopt the living wage by listing them on a local map and giving them discounted advertising rates in the local magazine.

Blake, M.K. 2019. 'More than Just Food: Food Insecurity and Resilient Place Making through Community Self-Organising'. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2942. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/10/2942/htm

In the interest of achieving food resilience and alleviating food insecurity, the paper finds that 'the capacity to self-organise is a vital community asset', but that 'self-organisation at the community scale takes a long time to reach its transformative potential and when community resources are deeply depleted, may never be achieved unless significant outside support is provided'.

 

Fabian Commission. October 2015. ‘Hungry for Change. The final report of the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty’. Fabian Society Report. 44 pages http://www.fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Hungry-for-Change-web-27.10.pdf

At a national level, the report’s first recommendation is for a new cross-departmental minister to ‘coordinate action across government departments while working in partnership with devolved governments, local authorities, regulators, businesses, trade unions, civil society and those in poverty to end household food insecurity in the UK.’ (p1)

At a national level, the report recommends that ‘all governments in the UK should ensure all directly and indirectly employed public sector workers are paid at least the level of the living wage, and they should champion the voluntary living wage rates in the private sector’ (p33)

The report recommends that ‘Local authorities should establish food access plans that will identify any physical barriers to affordable, sustainable, nutritious food in their area and develop an action plan to overcome them. Local authorities should build on the work already being done by the Sustainable Food Cities Network to boost access to affordable, nutritious food in local areas.’ It specifically looks at the need to address physical inabilities to access a sufficient quantity and quality of food’ (p14) and the problem of ‘fat swamps’ in urban areas (p16).

The report makes the case for universal free school meals that conform with nutrition standards as a means of providing children from low-income households with a nutritious, hot meal (p16). It warns that the Healthy Start Scheme is at risk despite the fact that ‘evaluations of the initiative have shown it to be a valuable public health scheme that can ensure babies born into poverty in the UK are protected from poor diet related health outcomes in the crucial early months of development. Ending this scheme could also contribute to higher costs in the long term’ and adding that ‘public health initiatives are generally good value for money’ (p30)

IPES 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. 120 pages

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.’

Heery, E. Nash, D. Hann, D. April 2017. ‘The Living Wage Employer Experience’ Cardiff University Business School and Living Wage Foundation.47 pages https://www.livingwage.org.uk/news/real-living-wage-good-business-good-society

The survey of more than 800 accredited real Living Wage businesses, ranging from SME’s to FTSE 100 companies, found that 93% reported they had gained as a business after becoming a real Living Wage employer.

London Food Link, Sustain. October 2015. ‘Beyond the Food Bank: London Food Poverty Profile 2015’. Sustain. 22 pages http://www.sustainweb.org/publications/london_food_poverty_profile_2015/ 

Highlights the importance of providing adequate services to improve access to healthy food in the London Boroughs. These cover Healthy Start Vouchers boosting purchasing power by up to 25% for some families (p8); free school meals saving families up to £400 a year, tackling child poverty and boosting attainment; breastfeeding improving health of mothers and babies (p10); Meals on Wheels where an investment of just £1.32 per taxpayer per year in meals on wheels could save the UK economy as much as £1.7 billion by 2020.

Frontiers in Public Health. August 2016. ‘School Holiday Food Provision in the UK: A Qualitative Investigation of Needs, Benefits, and Potential for Development’. Frontiers In Public Health 8 pages. http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2016.00172/full

Interviews with staff involved in holiday clubs found that they ‘felt that the food provided at holiday clubs gave children opportunities to try new and more nutritious foods than they would have access to at home. Staff believed that the children liked trying new foods and felt that these new food experiences could have a positive influence on children’s dietary habits at home.’ In addition, ‘holiday clubs offered an array of enjoyable activities for children’ which ‘were believed to alleviate boredom and reduce the likelihood that children would engage in anti-social behaviour’ thus improving overall wellbeing (p4).

Long, M. Stretesky, P. Graham, P. Palmer, K. Steinbock, E. Defeyter, M. 2017. ‘The impact of holiday clubs on household food insecurity—A pilot study’. Heath & Social Care in the Community. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hsc.12507/full

This paper provides preliminary evidence about the impact of holiday clubs on household food insecurity. When secure and insecure households are compared, they discover that food insecure households benefit the most from holiday clubs, which suggests that they may play an important role in mitigating household food insecurity.

Get involved in a campaign

SFP members

Organisations

Food Power offer a wide range of practical support and resources to food poverty alliances.

Casserole Club helps people share extra portions of home-cooked food with others in their area who are not always able to cook for themselves.

Magic Breakfast provides a free, nutritious breakfast in more than 240 schools and helps new schools establish their own breakfast clubs.

NHS Healthy Start gives out free vouchers every week to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk.

FoodCycle works to reduce food poverty and social isolation by serving tasty, nutritious meals to vulnerable groups using reclaimed surplus food.

 

Promoting Healthy Eating

London has introduced a junk food ad ban that applies to all Transport for London network, including the London Underground and bus stops.  

Be a Star Breastfeeding campaign (Central Lancashire PCT) is an award-winning breastfeeding campaign aimed at hard to reach mothers aged 15 to 25.

Sustainable Food Places Network members are delivering local Sugar Smart and Veg Cities campaigns.

West Sussex County Council (p7) piloted a Sugar champion programme to promote national Change4Life campaigns on sugar reduction. They elaborated a 12-months calendar of events to raise awareness around health issues and developed a network of local champions to advocate the sugar reduction agenda.

Calderdale Council (p14) has worked with the Soil Association’s Out to Lunch team to create a local version of their national campaign. It is giving the public information about where they can go to get healthy meals and encouraging local restaurants and cafés to adopt better practices.

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership’s Healthy Weight Referral Service is a one-stop shop for people looking to access weight management programmes. They also have a cookery programme and advice on eating well on a budget.

Kirklees' Food Initiative Nutrition Education programme offers training to community organisations and volunteers who wish to teach healthy eating and cooking classes in their neighbourhood.  

Cardiff & Vale University Health Board dieticians work support community organisations to promote healthy eating and incorporate food and nutrition skills into their work.

Cornwall Healthy Weight helps residents find exercise, weight loss and healthy eating classes near where they live.

Healthy Stockport provides online healthy eating advice for residents, including portion control, diet and nutrition.

Lambeth Council (p30) has trained over 1,000 of its local front-line staff in how to identify and deal with weight problems in children and set up nutrition training for staff in children’s centres. As part of London’s Food Flagship programme the Council is helping residents gain the knowledge, passion and skills to grow, buy, cook and enjoy healthy and sustainable food. Vouchers are also being offered to families at children’s centres at risk of food poverty, which can be exchanged for fruit and vegetables.

Bristol’s Kitchens on Prescription project aims to make delivery of motivational healthy eating cooking courses – delivered out of Community Training Kitchens or elsewhere - part of mainstream healthcare. The project is part of a wider vision to support activities that could be prescribed as part of a social prescribing model to improve health and wellbeing. The aim is that healthcare professionals will refer patients who can benefit from the service.

Luton Borough Council’s Family Food First project (p36) works with early years staff to improve their knowledge of diet and nutrition and help them feel confident and knowledgeable in talking to and advising parents on the issue.

Bath’s Cook It programme works with parents and carers to improve the diet of children and young people by building cooking skills and confidence.

Greenwich’s A Taste of Health deliver five week cookery clubs to increase participants’ healthy eating knowledge and skills.

Manchester Cracking Good Food provides cooking training to vulnerable, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach community groups. 

Good Food Oxford and LEAP trialled different cookery class teaching styles resulting in a new 'kitchen toolkit' approach that will enable people to cook from scratch more often, and to use fresh vegetables more confidently, with tastier results and on a budget. 

Liverpool’s Can Cook delivers cooking skills training and has so far provided over 15,000 people across Liverpool with the essential skills needed to prepare healthy and nutritious meals at home.

In Carlisle the PhunkyFoods (p16) programme works with local primary schools to help educate children and their families to live a healthier lifestyle. A local coordinator has been employed to help schools in developing a whole-school approach to healthy lifestyle education, including parent engagement through workshops and cook and eat sessions. It has led to increased awareness of healthy eating choices, children willing to try new foods and basic cooking skills are being acquired.

Bristol’s Healthy Schools Programme puts food at the heart of the life of the school, using food in all curriculum areas, setting up cooking clubs, healthy tuck shops, food waste collections, composting and food growing.

Hull City Council commissioned Soil Association Food for Life to run the City’s Whole School Food and Nutrition Programme for 3 years. The Hull Food Partnership’s Food Action Plan includes plans to increase the number of schools involved with and awarded by the Soil Association Food for Life programme.

Manchester Healthy Schools offers training, support and resources to schools to help improve children’s health, including through food.

London Borough of Croydon’s Food Flagship programme had a strong focus on schools including improving school meals, growing, cooking and led to a radical change in how schools taught children about food (p20).

Your Local Pantry is a network of community food stores in Stockport run by volunteers for the benefit of their local communities, increasing access to affordable healthy food.

London Healthy Urban Development Unit has published a good practice guide: Using the planning system to control hot food takeaways.

The Food Access Radar toolkit was developed by Staffordshire County Council and Oxfordshire County Council as a tool for identifying areas where people have problems accessing healthy food.

Oxford’s VegVan sells fresh, locally-produced food at regular weekly mini-markets throughout the city and county.

Nottinghamshire County Council mapped hot food takeaways, fruit and vegetable shops, childhood obesity prevalence, deprivation and schools in Bassetlaw District to identify areas which might benefit from intervention. The data was summarised in a report for its Obesity Integrated Commissioning Group.

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council (see p8 of the document) in Wales decided to trial vending machines filled with healthier options such as freshly prepared baguettes, sandwiches and wraps, in two leisure centres. Both sites saw initial high sales of fresh food and water; over the three-month period for which returns were submitted, £2,400 of the vended produce was ‘healthy’ according to the definition set out in the monitoring guidance – 22% of the total vending revenue.

Barking and Dagenham’s ‘Mobile Green Grocer’ is a mobile unit that offers fresh fruit and vegetables at competitive prices.  The service is run by Community Food Enterprise Limited (CFE), a registered charity and social enterprise business. The ‘Mobile Green Grocer’ store is a Luton van which has been customised so that shoppers can come on board and select their own produce.

The Soil Association's Out to Lunch campaign calls on restaurant chains and supermarket cafes to improve the service and food they offer children by publishing annual league tables.

Baby Friendly Initiative (UNICEF) promotes a global accreditation programme to support breastfeeding and parent infant relationships.

5 A Day campaign (NHS) provides practical tips on how to eat a healthy balanced diet on a budget.

Change 4 Life (NHS) campaign provides advice on how to eat healthily including reducing sugar, salt and fat.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health campaigns to reduce salt and sugar consumption.

Gulp (Give Up Loving Pop) is a campaign from Food Active which aims to raise awareness of the health harms associated with over consumption of sugary drinks.

The British Dietetic Association's One Blue Dot project brings together information on healthy diets and sustainability to tackle the “urgency of change” that is needed in how people eat.

Sustain's 'Taking down junk food ads' report highlights what local areas are doing to tackle outdoor advertising.

First Steps Nutrition Trust provides resources and support for healthy eating in early years.

The Eatwell Plate website shows what types and proportions of food are needed for a healthy diet with tools for assessing diets and planning healthier menus.

NHS Choices provides information, resources, practical tips and tools to help people adopt healthy eating and lose weight.

Children's Food Trust published a comprehensive Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England.

Food Foundation's report Force-Fed shows how difficult it is for typical British families to eat a healthy diet and suggests government action.

Public Health England's 'Promoting healthy weight in children, young people and families: A resource to support local authorities' has been produced to support public health teams to engage partners in delivering a whole systems obesity approach.  

The Soil Association Food for Life Partnership delivers an award winning whole school food education and engagement programme in schools throughout England.

School Food Matters works to improve school meals and support food education through cooking, growing and links with local farms.

Edible Playgrounds transform outdoor spaces in school grounds into green growing spaces, giving children the opportunity to grow, harvest and eat healthy food.

The Government’s School Food Plan aims to help head teachers improve food in their schools. What Works Well is dedicated to sharing good practice among schools in implementing the school food plan. 

The Customer Data Research Centre (CDRC) online mapping tool allows you to view Access to Health Assets & Hazards, mapping of the Retail Environment, of Fast Foods, of Green Spaces for 13 large UK cities. 

The Food Environment Assessment Tool allows councils and campaigners to find out the concentration of outlets by area. It was developed by CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. 

Shaw Food Solutions has undertaken a mapping of food deserts in the UK as well as bakers, butchers, convenience stores (differentiated between those with 10 or more kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables and those with under 10) and fishmongers. 

London’s Takeaways Toolkit helps fast food outlets understand the options available when considering the health impacts of their food offering.

Coventry University published a study on The Emergence of Social Supermarkets in Britain.

Food Foundation's evidence based toolkit for retailers demonstrates how veg can help increase sales and improve the health of their customers.

Food Policy Networks recorded a webinar on in-store interventions to encourage healthier purchasing.

The Healthy London Partnership's Healthy High Streets report looks at different approaches to improving the food retail environment in London looking at people's food choices and working with businesses.

Public Health England have published Encouraging healthier ‘out of home’ food provision toolkit to support local councils and independent food businesses to provide and promote healthier options. 

Public Health England's 'Healthier Catering Guidance for Different Types of Businesses: Tips on providing and promoting healthier food and drink for children and families' offers simple practical changes when procuring, preparing, cooking, serving and promoting food.

Food Research Collaboration's briefing Within Arms Reach, focuses on the factors that inform food and drink purchasing by young people in the vicinity of school.

The Geographic Data Science Lab produced a tool and data resource for the UK measuring in a multi-dimensional way how ‘healthy’ neighbourhoods are (including access to retail outlets, access to health services and quality of the physical environment.)

Local Government Association has produced a report Tipping the scales: case studies on the use of planning powers to limit hot food takeaway.

Public Health England published a briefing on the use of the Food Access Radar in identifying areas with a likelihood of food poverty.

Shift led a pilot project looking at the variables that play a role in the success and potential sustainability of healthy fast food businesses in low income areas. 

Download our Good Policy for Good Food Guide

The local authority can use a 'whole systems approach' to obesity to deliver on a range of key local priorities, in addition to reducing obesity levels, such as improving workforce health, contributing to a stronger local economy and helping reduce social care costs.


The London Health Inequalities Strategy (Sept 2018) includes plans (pp160-163) to work in partnership with the London Food Board to deliver on the aims of the London Food Strategy. Key aims include the reduction of childhood obesity and health inequalities. It recognises the multiple factors behind the obesity epidemic and that these issues must be addressed together. Plans include increasing accessibility and affordability of healthy food, reducing prominence of unhealthy food, transforming supply chains and the built and retail environment.

London Borough of Haringey’s ambitions to reduce obesity have led to the adoption of an ‘Obesity Whole Systems Delivery Plan’ which ‘aims to embed health at every level of policy making across the Council and encourages a collaborative approach across Council departments and with community partners.’ ‘The Council has employed a healthy public policy officer dedicated to pursuing the approach in a systematic way across departments and with key partners.’ (p24)

Oldham Council’s Obesity Improvement Strategy 2017-19 calls for action at every level and across all sectors including cooking skills; healthy recipes; reducing sugary drink consumption; raising awareness on positive eating and drinking habits; making healthier options available in the public sector; limiting availability of low quality food and increasing access to affordable, healthy options (via Healthy Start Vouchers, promotion of breastfeeding etc).

It supports a ‘social movement for change’ (p6) by ‘creating the conditions for the development of a positive social movement for healthy food and drink by taking an asset-based approach - build on the knowledge, skills, interest and enthusiasm of people who want to make a difference.’

A local authority can sign up to Food Active's Local Authority Declaration on Healthy Weight or to the Local Government Declaration on Sugar Reduction and Healthier Food and commit to promoting healthy weight.


Durham County Council adopted a Healthy and Sustainable Food Policy in January 2018 to build on previously adopted policies such as the County Durham Food Charter initiated by the local food partnership.

The policy covers four main areas:

  • Assisting staff, clients and communities they serve to access healthy and sustainable food.
  • Offering and promoting good food when catering for any public events or functions held by the Council.
  • Embedding good food into Council policy and practice to demonstrate its commitment to staff wellbeing and the promotion of local food supply chains wherever possible.
  • Engaging the Council’s influence to lead by example, encouraging others to participate, and directly support good food across County Durham and the region.

Blackpool Council (p8) was the first local authority to sign up to the Declaration and to join forces with Food Active – a collaboration of Public Health Directors in the North West tackling obesity. The Council has since then been working on procurement and revising vending arrangements to reduce the amount of sugary drinks available; linking to other strategies across the Council; working with other public sector organisations; working with schools to improve packed lunches; organising staff health events; relaunching the Healthy Catering Award; and linking with the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council and all seven district councils have signed up to Food Active’s Declaration on Healthy Weight making the County the first to sign all three tiers to the declaration.

Oxford City Council was the first local authority outside London to sign the Local Government Declaration on Sugar Reduction and Healthier Food. After local consultation, the Council has pledged to increase access to free tap water; display sugar content information next to leisure centre vending machines and for drinks sold in Council cafes; reduce advertising of sugary drinks at Council facilities; and encourage businesses to sign up to Sugar Smart commitments.

In 2010, Bristol was the first city in England and Wales to achieve UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative [BFI] best practice standards for breast and bottle-feeding. Public Health Outcomes Framework data show a Bristol breastfeeding initiation rate at 82% for the past four years, compared with England average of 74%. At the 6-8 week check, 58.6% of mothers are still breastfeeding compared with an England average of 47%.

Bath and North East Somerset Council launched the Workplace Wellbeing Charter scheme in Autumn 2014 and has supported over a dozen large businesses to sign up to the charter so far.

Hampshire County Council has become a Workplace Wellbeing Charter provider, meaning that they encourage and support local employers to improve the health and welfare of their staff. Several Hampshire local authorities have adopted it.


The Royal Borough of Greenwich Core Strategy (p154) provides for the easy access of healthy food by protecting shops in local centres and neighbourhood parades, protecting existing markets and encouraging new ones.

Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) can be used to restrict the development of hot food takeaways (A5). SPDs are not systematically produced but build upon and provide more detailed advice or guidance on the policies in the Local Plan. For planning decisions to be successfully upheld they need to be able to demonstrate a link to sound evidence and clear local policy. There needs to be good linkage between any SPDs or neighbourhood planning policies, health strategies (Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the JSNA) and, most importantly, the local plan. Local plans need to refer to these health strategies and vice versa.

A Health Impact Assessment can be undertaken to help determine whether the planned development is likely to negatively impact upon health and wellbeing.


Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s ‘Planning for Health Supplementary Planning Document’ requires Health Impact Assessments (HIA) from all developments with potential impact on health, especially obesity, and includes School Exclusion Zones for hot food takeaways. (p10)

Cardiff Council’s ‘Planning for Health and Well-being Supplementary Planning Guidance’ (Nov 2017) provides guidance to developers on public health and access to health care services issues. It includes a 'Food Environment' section covering access to food growing spaces, the provision of retail units selling fruit and vegetables and the restriction of the positioning of hot food takeaways. (p14)

Gateshead’s Supplementary Planning Document (p23), which limits the proliferation of takeaways, builds on the Gateshead and Newcastle Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan (2015) which sets out to improve access to healthier food and control the location of and access to unhealthy food outlets. The SPD states that planning permission will not be granted in the locations where:

  • Children and young people congregate.
  • High levels of obesity (using NCMP data) are observed.
  • There is an over-proliferation of hot food takeaways.
  • Clustering of hot food takeaways will negatively impact on the vitality of the local area.

All future hot food takeaway applications must be accompanied by a health impact assessment.

In determining planning permission for new A5 outlets:

  • Information on nutritional quality and portion size were collected from takeaway outlets.
  • The concentration of hot food takeaway outlets within each ward was measured by checking the local Food Premises Register.
  • Academic evidence on the link between obesity and exposure to takeaway outlets was reviewed.
  • Ward level prevalence of obesity among Year 6 children was obtained from the NCMP.

The conditions set out in the SPD mean that there are currently no locations where opening a new hot food takeaway would be within the policy, as all wards have Year 6 obesity levels above 10%. As a result, no new A5s have been granted planning permission since the SPD was implemented and the number of applications has dropped. The number of successful appeals has also decreased from 5/9 in 2013 to 0/5 in 2016.

London Borough of Islington adopted a Location and Concentration of Uses Supplementary Planning Document (p36) that makes planning applications for new hot food takeaways conditional on achieving and operating in compliance with the Healthier Catering Commitment standard (London only) within six months.

London Borough of Waltham Forest has adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance to deny planning permission to new fast food outlets within 400 metres of schools.

Street Trading Policies set out the Council’s approach to street licensing and its standards for those engaged in street trading.

Where food outlets operate from their property (vending, cafes in Council buildings, parks, leisure and sport centres and children’s centres, Council-operated markets or mobile trading activities), Councils can use their licensing powers to restrict the selling of unhealthy food.

Local authorities can “control” fast food vans by designating streets as requiring a ‘consent’ to trade under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (LGMP Act) Sch. 4 Sect 2. (1) and introduce a policy refusing consent for unhealthy food vending and/or restricting location and hours of operation.

The provision of hot food or drink (beyond certain exemptions) after 11pm and before 5am requires a premises licence (Licensing Act 2003). If public health can be brought into the licensing objectives, a licence to sell unhealthy late-night takeaway food may be refused or restricted on these grounds. Otherwise, late-night food can only be restricted in line with the current objectives.


London has introduced a junk food ad ban that applies to all Transport for London network, including the London Underground and bus stops.  

Guilford Council requires in its Street Trading Requirements and Application Form (p7) that “at least one healthy meal choice should be provided”. The document gives examples of such menus, though these could be updated to reflect current nutritional guidelines.

Hillingdon Council has passed a resolution under Section 37(2) London Local Authorities Act 1990 (as amended), prohibiting itinerant ice cream trading in certain areas in the vicinity of schools and in streets falling in listed major retail areas. https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/19042/Itinerant-ice-cream-sales

Leicester City Council introduced a Street Trading Policy to restrict trading (ice cream vans, burger vans) outside schools. It applies a ‘general presumption against street trading, particularly in the vicinity of schools’.

Warrington Street Trading Policy (p25) includes clauses banning trading at, or within 100m of, schools between 12-2pm and 3-5pm on school days. Street traders applying for, or renewing, a licence are offered a £100 discount on the standard licence fee if they meet criteria regarding the use of salt, fat and sugar and portion control.

Section 106 Agreements are legal agreements between the developer and the local authority, negotiated development by development, for money or in-kind support for additional services or developments that relate to the proposed development. S106 is restricted to be used to directly mitigate the impact of a proposal. These can be used to require financial contributions from hot food takeaways to support the Council’s initiatives to tackle obesity. These can also be used to create more food growing spaces or to encourage retail diversity by supporting independent retailers. (see also Community Infrastructure Levy).


The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham introduced a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) that calls on Section 106 to levy a £1,000 charge on hot-food takeaway businesses when they are granted planning permission and assigns the proceeds exclusively to the Borough’s fight against obesity. This adds to the SPD’s further restrictions imposed in terms of the appropriate location (not in proximity of schools) and concentration of hot food takeaways.

Specifying food shops as ‘essential retail’ in the Local Plan can enable local planners to restrict applications for a change of use from this specific shop type to one less essential (within A1 retail and service outlet category) which would normally not require planning permission. It could, for example, prevent a greengrocer being replaced by a hairdresser.


London Borough of Hackney’s Core Strategy Policy 13 ‘Town Centres’ (p79) states: ‘Shops that provide essential day-to-day needs for the local community such as baker, butcher, greengrocer, grocer, specialist ethnic food shop, post office, dispensing chemists and primary care facilities, launderette, newsagent and post office in the borough’s town, district and local shopping centres as well as shopping parades and corner shops will be protected from changes of use away from retail.

The Council can develop a clause to reduce the overconcentration of any use-type in order to restrict the development of hot food takeaways.

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets developed clauses in its local plan stating that the Council will: SPO3 “Support opportunities for healthy and active lifestyles through, d) seeking to reduce the overconcentration of any use-type where this detracts from the ability to adopt healthy lifestyles”. (p50) Such a clause in the local plan provides the basis for the development of specific local policies designed to limit the profusion and/or concentration of unhealthier eating outlets.

A school food policy encouraging holistic food education and engagement programmes including growing, cooking, farm visits and improvements to meals and dining culture can be developed.


Glasgow City Council adopted a school food policy for Glasgow schools in January 2016. The recommendations include the establishment of School Food and Nutrition Action Group (SNAG) in all schools and nurseries responsible for implementing the policy. Schools should discourage the consumption of takeaway food in school premises and promote school lunches; the caterer should increase its offer of fresh, local produce; and food growing and cooking skills should be encouraged.

Hull City Council commissioned Soil Association Food for Life to run the City’s Whole School Food and Nutrition Programme for 3 years. The Hull Food Partnership’s Food Action Plan includes plans to increase the number of schools involved with and awarded by the Soil Association Food for Life programme.

The EAT-Lancet Commission (2019). Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet. https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/

A full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system.The planetary health diet is largely plant-based and allows an average of 2,500 calories a day. It also concludes that food waste must be halved to 15%. The report acknowledges that achieving this goal will require rapid adoption of numerous changes and unprecedented global collaboration and commitment.

Ocean, N and Howley, P and Ensor, J. 11 July 2018. 'Lettuce Be Happy: The Effects of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption on Subjective Well-Being in the UK'. Leeds University Business School Working Paper No. 18-12. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3211798 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3211798

Finds that increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables are linked to increases in self-reported mental wellbeing and life satisfaction in data that spans a five-year period, even after accounting for other determinants of mental well-being such as physical health, income and consumption of other foods.

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

 

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'.

Community Food and Health Scotland. Mar 2018. Chopping and changing
evidence and ideas to improve the impact of your cooking skills courses. NHS Health Scotland. 52 pages  https://www.communityfoodandhealth.org.uk/publications/chopping-and-changing/

This report uses evidence from a realist self-evaluation study group to show the impact of cooking skills courses on people who are affected by health inequalities: vulnerable people and parents managing on a low income.

Fabian Commission. October 2015. ‘Hungry for Change. The final report of the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty’. Fabian Society Report. 44 pages http://www.fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Hungry-for-Change-web-27.10.pdf

The report recommends that ‘Local authorities should establish food access plans that will identify any physical barriers to affordable, sustainable, nutritious food in their area and develop an action plan to overcome them. Local authorities should build on the work already being done by the Sustainable Food Cities Network to boost access to affordable, nutritious food in local areas.’ It specifically looks at the need to address physical inabilities to access a sufficient quantity and quality of food’ (p14) and the problem of ‘fat swamps’ in urban areas (p16).

Local Government Association. February 2016. ‘Building the foundations: Tackling obesity through planning and development’. Local Government Association. 48 pages http://www.local.gov.uk/documents/10180/7632544/L16-6+building+the+foundations+-+tackling+obesity_v05.pdf/a5cc1a11-57b2-46e3-bb30-2b2a01635d1a

The LGA calls for a whole-systems approach to tackling obesity and for collaborative working across teams and organisational boundaries (p9)

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. 9pages

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)

‘An increasing body of evidence has added weight to the argument for a whole systems approach to be taken. The most recent Cochrane review of obesity prevention initiatives and the McKinsey Global Institute analysis of interventions both concluded that no single solution creates sufficient impact to reverse obesity; only a comprehensive, systematic program of multiple interventions is likely to be effective.’ ‘The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has also argued that systems-wide leadership is vital to tackling obesity and suggested that local councils should aim to achieve a consistent approach to tackling obesity across all their strategies and policies.’ ‘The recent Local Government Association (LGA) local practice example analysis of ways in which local council public health departments are working in partnership to add value emphasises the need for a shared vision and for integration across council departments.’ ‘A joint approach to commissioning, pooling budgets and resources can be very effective. This is likely to be critical in maintaining and growing an effective public health offer at a time of increasing financial constraint.’ (Annexe D pp15-16)

Lawson Health Research Institute. “Children’s nutrition linked to surrounding food environment” via website of News Medical. Accessed on 22nd June 2016 http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160621/Childrene28099s-nutrition-linked-to-surrounding-food-environment.aspx

The Canadian study using GPS technology ‘showed that exposure to junk food outlets had a significant effect on a child's likelihood of making a junk food purchase’ and that therefore ‘bylaws and policies should be enacted that restrict the concentration of junk food outlets around schools.’

Public Health England. March 2014. ‘Obesity and the environment: regulating the growth of fast food outlets’. Public Health England publications. 11 pages https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/296248/Obesity_and_environment_March2014.pdf

Focusing on the environment and the connections between planning and health, the report argues that ‘local authorities have a range of legislative and policy levers at their disposal, alongside wider influences on healthy lifestyles, that can help to create places where people are supported to maintain a healthy weight. Public health professionals should work with their colleagues across local authorities to use these and other approaches to maximise health benefits.’ (p3)

The Food Foundation. January 2016. ‘Force-Fed. Does the food system constrict healthy choices for typical British families?’. The Food Foundation. 64 pages. http://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/The-Food-Foundation-64pp-A4-Landscape-Brochure-AW-V32.pdf

One of the report’s policy recommendations is that ‘quick-service restaurants often serve cheap, unhealthy food and we need a range of measures in place to incentivise food service providers to provide healthier food. Planning regulation is only one of these measures, but, given the strength of evidence and existing guidance from Public Health England, having consistent decision-making by local government and planning inspectors on fast food outlets around schools would be an easy win.’ (p35)

The report studies the extent to which unhealthy eating patterns are becoming more common as we increasingly ‘eat out’. In addition to planning regulations to limit the number of fast food outlets (mentioned above), the report recommends many other measures to ‘incentivise food service providers to provide healthier food’. These include ‘setting upper limits for the formulation of processed foods’ for specific nutrients; making Government Buying Standards mandatory for all public procurement; using VAT to support healthy choices; increasing school meal uptake and improving food in schools and workplaces (p27, 35).

Public Health England. June 2017. ‘Spatial Planning for Health: An evidence resource for planning and designing healthier places’. Public Health England Publications. 69 pages. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/625568/Spatial_planning_for_health_an_evidence_resource.pdf

“Existing evidence indicates that making healthier foods more accessible and increasing provision of low-cost healthier food could be effective interventions, but these are likely to be more effective as part of a whole system approach to diet and obesity”. PHE publish evidence on the impact that ‘increasing access to healthier food for the general population’, ‘decrease exposure to unhealthy food environments’, ‘increased access to healthier food in schools’, ‘access to retail outlets selling healthier food’, ‘urban food growing’, ‘provision of and access to allotment and garden space’ have on key public health outcomes. These include maintenance of healthier weight, reduced risk of CVD, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers, nutrition related outcomes among children and adolescents, BMI among children and adolescents and mental health and wellbeing (pp30-32).

High Level Panel of Experts for Food Security and Nutrition/FAO. September 2017. ‘Nutrition and Food Systems’. High Level Panel of Experts for Food Security and Nutrition/FAO. 152 pages http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Reports/HLPE-Report-12_EN.pdf

This report makes the case for interventions that contribute to healthier food environments and shape dietary patterns in order to improve nutrition and food security. Recommendations include (pp19-20):

  • Improve connectivity between rural, peri-urban, and urban supply and demand in order to propose to consumers a greater diversity of nutritious foods and support local economies, through appropriate infrastructure, markets and technologies, including e-commerce;
  • Provide financial and promotional incentives for retailers and food outlet owners, including street food vendors, to sell safe foods, made with less sodium and a higher proportion of healthy oils, fruits and vegetables;
  • Make nutritious foods more accessible and convenient in public places (schools, hospitals, etc.), as well as in home and school gardens, and rural marketplaces to provide greater dietary diversity and quality.
  • Design and implement policies and regulations that improve the built environment to promote nutritious food, including zoning regulations and tax regimes to minimize food deserts and swamps.
  • Promote food cultures, including cooking skills and the importance of food in cultural heritage, as a vehicle to promote nutrition literacy.

TCPA. Dec 2017. ‘Practical Guides for Creating Successful New Communities Guide 8: Creating Health-Promoting Environments.’ The Town and Country Planning Association. 34pages https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=e120cac7-c8df-45a5-8879-bb830df3fc77 

The Town and Country Planning Association's new development guidelines for Local Authorities take on an explicit public health perspective and recommend improving the food environment through: supporting the development of and facilitating access to a diversity of food outlets selling healthy food options; avoiding over-concentration of hot-food takeaways and restricting their proximity to schools, town centres or other facilities aimed at children, young people, and families; and giving communities the means to grow their own food in designated public and private spaces accessible from the home, school, or workplace. (p14)

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

‘A systematic review of nutrition interventions targeting vending machines found that reducing price or increasing availability increased sales of healthier choices’ (Annexe D p8).

A systematic review of the national levers that make the case for local authority interventions in the following areas:

  • making healthy options available in the public sector, particularly through promotion of the GBSF
  • re-committing to the Healthy Start scheme
  • encouraging all schools to commit to the School Food Standards
  • increase access to healthy foods in disadvantaged areas
  • to support local authorities to deliver whole systems approaches to tackle obesity, including through supporting healthier and more sustainable food procurement
  • use existing planning levers to limit the growth of hot food takeaways, for example by developing supplementary planning policies
  • work with local outlets and partners to increase access to healthy food choices. (Annexe D p17)

‘A good understanding of the makeup of the local food and drink environment will be important in determining intervention focus.’ The report suggests using the Food Premises register and various mapping systems to map outlet locations and show proximity to schools, leisure centres and other sites frequented by children and young people. It recommends ‘In any mapping process it may be worth noting outlets occupying council-owned premises, for example leisure centres, where there may be better scope to leverage changes.’ The report also recommends local authorities try and gain an understanding of the consumer food environment by assessing the availability, procurement, price and prominence of healthier ingredients, food products and catering practices. (Toolkit pp13-14)

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. April 2016. ‘Barriers to Healthy Food’. Houses of Parliament. 7 pages. http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0522?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=PN522

Identifies education and information as a fundamental intervention to improve diets including campaigns; school-based interventions involving cooking and nutritional education; life-style interventions with dietary components; and improving cooking skills in the adult population (p3).

UNICEF UK. “Research on the impact of the Baby Friendly Initiative”, via website of UNICEF UK. Accessed on 25th Feb 2020 https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/news-and-research/baby-friendly-research/research-on-the-impact-of-the-baby-friendly-initiative/

A compilation of independent research on the impact of the Baby Friendly Initiative finds, amongst other conclusions that:

  1. breastfeeding is a major contributor to public health and has an important role to play in reducing health inequalities (artificially fed babies are at greater risk of allergic disease (eczema, asthma and wheezing), type 1 and type 2 diabetes and obesity);
  2. that for just five illnesses, moderate increases in breastfeeding would translate into cost savings for the NHS of £40 million and tens of thousands of fewer hospital admissions and GP consultations.

Soil Association Food for Life. 2016. ‘A Healthier Place: the impact of the Food for Life Programme’. Soil Association Food for Life. 12 pages https://www.foodforlife.org.uk/about-us/our-impact/evaluation-reports

Food for Life shows the impact its whole school approach and multi-settings programme have on health and well-being and the local economy. This latest report shows that for every £1 spent on Food For Life (FFL) there is a social value of £4.41 created over a three year period. It also shows that pupils in FFL schools reported consuming almost one third more portions of fruit and vegetables than pupils in comparison schools. It also found an increase in free school meal uptake in FFL schools and an increase in the procurement of more ethical, sustainable and local produce via the Food for Life Served Here.

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 ‘improved education on healthy eating in schools from an early age is essential to changing eating habits’ and that in order to achieve this ‘school curricula at all levels should include modules that integrate the multiple dimensions of food systems, including hands-on experiential programs such as school gardens, food preparation facilities, and making meals a time for learning as much as for eating’ (p72).

Public Health England. February 2015. ‘Local Leadership, New Approaches. How new ways of working are helping to improve the health of local communities’. Public Health England. 21 pages. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/407060/2014712_Local_leadership.pdf

PHE reports on Calderdale Council’s support of the integration of Food For Life in schools across the borough as well as extending to all settings with the aim of transforming food culture. Citing the public health manager at the Council, the report writes that ‘there’s widespread support for this type of focus on prevention from colleagues at the CCG and the local NHS hospital trust, who appreciate its potential to improve health and tackle inequalities’ (p8).

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. April 2016. ‘Barriers to Healthy Food’. Houses of Parliament. 7 pages. http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/POST-PN-0522

The report makes evident that increasing the availability of healthy options is mostly dependent on reducing the availability of unhealthy options. As the report does not find strong evidence to support the widespread existence of food deserts, it instead recommends acting on the promotion, advertising and marketing of unhealthy options to make these less attractive in comparison with healthier alternatives. It adds the importance of having strong healthy public sector food standards as well as reformulation and portion control.

Get involved in a campaign

SFP members

Organisations

Eating Better is a broad alliance of organisations working to help people move towards diet’s that are better for them and for the planet.

Vegetarian Society works with businesses, government agencies, policy makers and professionals to promote vegetarian lifestyles.

Healthy Cities Network, provides research, advice and support to help local authorities and health agencies improve health, including diet.

Chartered Institute of Environmental Health provides information and advice to policy makers and public health practitioners on food safety and nutrition.

Royal Society for Public Health provides training for practitioners on a range of health issues including food safety and nutrition.

Health Education Trust promotes the development of healthy lifestyles and health education among children and young adults, with a big focus on food.

Sustain represents nearly 100 national public interest organisations working to promote healthy, sustainable, local and ethical food. 

Soil Association runs programmes in a range of settings (schools, hospitals, early years, care homes) to transform food culture and campaigns for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.

Resources

Latest resources

What you can do

Aberdeen Granite City Good Food's local food directory helps residents  find where to access emergency food, find sustainable food producers, food growing opportunities and much more.

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Guides & toolkits

Sustain’s Good Food Retail Guide shows how ‘good food’ works in a retail setting and the types of venues and operations this would apply to.

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Local Policies

London has introduced a junk food ad ban that applies to all Transport for London network, including the London Underground and bus stops.  

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