Food leaders call on government to ramp up investment in local food
14th June 2023
Over 90 food leaders from the Sustainable Food Places (SFP) network will meet with MPs at Westminster today (Wednesday 14th June) to advocate the importance of healthy and sustainable food and call for greater investment in a better food future.
SFP members have voiced concerns over the lack of a cohesive Government strategy on food and farming, including the recent abandonment of plans to launch a Horticulture Strategy. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has passed a Good Food Nation Bill, and Welsh Government has promised funding for food partnerships in every local area.
The event will shine a spotlight on the role food partnerships play in attracting funding and investment and delivering long-term solutions to some of the most pressing issues in our food system, including food insecurity, supply chain disruption and inequity, and the climate and nature emergency.
Moreover, the event will feature a panel of inspiring speakers from SFP food partnerships along with MPs from across the political spectrum who have championed food partnerships and are passionate about healthy and sustainable food for all.
SFP programme lead Leon Ballin from the Soil Association said the aim is to send a clear message to the government of their responsibility to ensure a resilient approach to food policy, security and healthy communities is in place.
“We are very grateful for the MPs who have supported the SFP network so far, but it is now time for the government to step up and invest in this proven model to ensure the UK’s long-term food security and to share best practice on all aspects of healthy and sustainable food for all,” he said.
Vera Zakharov, SFP local action coordinator, added: “Food Partnerships are true local trailblazers, taking innovative approaches to build better and more resilient supply chains, create good food jobs and bring communities together over healthy, sustainable food.”
“It is time that the Government recognises their contribution by committing a Food Bill in every nation and a food partnership in every area in the UK.”
Patricia Gibson, SNP spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs & MP for North Ayrshire & Arran, also highlighted the crucial role food partnerships play in offering long-term solutions to food insecurity and a better food future and urged Westminster to follow Scotland’s example.
“In Scotland, the Government has shown commitment to supporting a healthier, more sustainable, and locally driven food system through the Good Food Nation Bill. The Bill requires all local authorities to produce a local food strategy that supports local producers and there’s no doubt that food partnerships will be a critical part of this process.”
Pearl Costello, Food Cardiff coordinator, added: “The growth of food partnerships across the whole of Wales is also encouraging collaboration through the development of this flourishing food network. This type of intervention and financial commitment is key if we want to create a food system that benefits the health, economy, sustainability and social prosperity of local communities.”
Food partnerships have gained prominence by supporting their local areas during the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. However, they also work to increase resilience and capacity of local communities to transition from food aid to food trade, build better networks around food and food production, and foster local enterprise.