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

City initiatives

Use the links below to see practical examples of how places around the UK are taking action.

1. Establish a multi-agency partnership

Belfast Food Network’s collaborative response to food poverty  

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 in different areas across the UK.

Glasgow and Edinburgh released a joint council leaders' statement on food poverty to support a Scotland-wide church led conference ‘Beyond Food Banks’. It was followed by a statement from the Directors of Public Health in Edinburgh and Glasgow which emphasised the health consequences of food poverty.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council have brought together third sector, businesses and other public sector partners to agree a cross-cutting food poverty action plan.

Lambeth Council launched its financial resilience strategy in July 2014. A group of statutory agencies, food banks, food charities and advice and support providers meets regularly to address food poverty aspects of the strategy.

Nourish Scotland outlines in this paper what role community food hubs can have in addressing food poverty and in stimulating the local food economy.

2. Promote the living wage

300 businesses in Brighton & Hove’s are paying the Living Wage. A recent study found that 70% of businesses noticed a positive impact on their staff and 60% of businesses also noticed a positive impact on their business.

Lambeth Council supports raising the living wage and has a report to help contractors, schools and others to become London Living Wage Employers.

3. Provide advice, referral and support on food access

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.

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.

4. Increase understanding of food poverty issues

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.

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership provides food poverty advice and resources for advisors and health professionals.

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).

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

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.

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.  

London Borough of Lewisham's report Putting Food on the Table looks at understanding food poverty in Lewisham by exploring food bank use. The report makes recommendations for addressing food poverty in the long-term.

London Borough of Sutton has looked into the causes of food poverty, how to measure it and what support services exist in their Food Poverty Needs Assessment.

5. Provide healthy weight services and initiatives

Bradford Teaching Hospitals offer nutrition training courses to educate and support patients, carers and health professionals across the Bradford district.

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership’s Healthy Weight Referral Service is a one-stop shop for people looking to access weight management programmes.

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.

6. Promote Healthy Start, free school meals and social food provision

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

Exeter's Make Lunch kitchens provide free, healthy, cooked food during the holidays for pupils who usually receive free school meals.

Food Cardiff piloted 'Food and Fun', a school holiday enrichment programme providing nutritious food and fun activities for children during the holidays.

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.

Nottingham City was the object of a study to identify the gaps in the uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers and what solutions could be found to increase accessibility.

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

South Lanarkshire County Council's community meals service became the first in the UK to achieve the Food for Life Catering Mark in 2013.

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

Whalley Range Taste Buds connects people who enjoy cooking and enables them to share their home-cooked food with elderly neighbours.  

7. Increase the availability of healthy options

A number of cities have developed their own Healthy Choice Awards, including Brighton and Hove, Kirklees, South Oxfordshire and Tameside.

London's Healthier Catering Commitment is being implemented across twenty two boroughs in London by catering businesses in partnership with environmental health and public health teams.

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

Sheffield International Venues is imposing a 20p levy on drinks with added sugar in all its vending machines across the city. The revenues generated will go to obesity and diabetes prevention programmes for young people. 

Southwark Council leisure centres are contractually obligated to provide healthy options for users. The new contract awarded to Everyone Active includes that: 'At least 50% of these items shall be healthy options.'  

Your Local Pantry is a network of community food stores in Stockport run by volunteers for the benefit of their local communities. 

8. Curb the development of food deserts and food swamps

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

Waltham Forest has adopted supplementary planning guidance to deny planning permission to new fast food outlets within 400 metres of schools.

Leicester City Council introduced a Street Trading Policy to prevent burger vans trading outside schools.

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.


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 www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk 

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