Developing Aims, Objectives and Action Plan

Step 1: Scope - Get to know your local food system

A useful starting point is to gather as much information as you can about your local food system and the political context. This will help to build evidence of why a food partnership and action plan is needed and further identify who the key stakeholders are.

This might include any or all of the following:

  • Exploring and mapping current projects and partners
  • Assessing needs and food access issues
  • Reviewing local strategies and policies to consider where food fits
  • Food system mapping
  • Gathering and reviewing evidence of food related issues
  • Reviewing existing literature and data e.g. health statistics

Local food system mapping

You may simply want to run a session with your steering group to do a ‘brain download’ of who is doing what, where and why under different food activity themes. Some food partnerships have found it useful to use the SFC Awards framework as the basis for collating information on what is happening in their area and identifying stakeholders. This may provide enough information to create a draft map of the food system (which could be used at stakeholder events) and a list of invitees to a food summit (see below).

Alternatively you may want to carry out a more comprehensive local food web mapping exercise. This can include mapping food producers, distributors, retailers, food consumers (the local community). It can be a useful way of both understanding your local food system and helping to galvanise and stimulate collaboration between partner organisations. You may find it useful to consult the Local Food Web Mapping Toolkit, written by Food Matters for the Campaign to Protect Rural England. This is a useful guide to the range of workshops, surveys and interviews that can be used. Some food partnerships have conducted extensive mapping exercises (see ‘Who Feeds Bristol’ or Portsmouth Food System Survey), but it is also possible to gain useful insight using just a few simple tools if resources are tight.

Review of local strategies

A review might include identifying and linking with a range of local authority strategies including:

  • Sustainability
  • Climate Change
  • Economic Development
  • Health and Wellbeing / Obesity
  • Community Development
  • Local Plan
  • Social Value

Local food summit

If funds and time allow you could bring your mapping to life by holding a Local Food Summit so that stakeholders can get to know the food system and build relationships. The event could also launch the concept of the food partnership and action plan and begin to identify key themes to work on. Have a look at an example of a plan for a food summit and get in touch with the Sustainable Food Cities team for further help and support.

Step 1 Questions to ask

  • Who is doing what, where?
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • What are the key local issues / concerns?
  • How well connected is the local food system?
  • Where is food grown locally?
  • How is food grown, processed, sold, consumed and disposed of?
  • How does food fit into the current local development agendas, strategies and policies?
  • What could a food action plan and partnership contribute to your city/place?
  • What might the aims and objectives of your food action plan be?


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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