Food is a necessity. But, for many, putting food that is healthy, delicious, appropriate and sustainably produced on to the table is extremely challenging. We’ve seen that through the national cost of living crisis, people had to make the stark choice between putting their heating on or eating, let alone consider what good food looks like to them..
That is why over the past 12 months, we have been working with the Bristol Food Network, as well as a diverse range of partners, to develop Bristol Good Food 2030: A One City Framework for Action.
Launched today, the framework sets out priorities and initiatives which aim to make Bristol’s food system better for people and communities, climate and nature, workers and businesses.
The way all of us produce, buy, cook, eat and throw away food in Bristol is important. It can impact our health, our communities, and our economy, and contributes to the climate and ecological emergencies the planet faces. The framework aims to transform the city’s system within the decade, addressing these issues across the city to build a resilient food system that is good for Bristol.
Representatives from organisations, community groups, institutions and citizens joined the Bristol Good Food partnership. In order to develop a framework, the group set up working groups based on themes, each with a different one to focus on. Ultimately, they have all been working towards the same goal, to create the framework and develop a collaborative approach.
The six themes focussed on in the framework are:
- Eating better – cook, eat well and share more
- Food justice – access to good food and food fairness
- Food waste – reduce, redistribute and recycle
- Good food governance – ensure strong food policies and plans
- Local food economy – help diverse food businesses thrive
- Urban growing – grow good food in and around the city
Food sits at the heart of many of the challenges facing our city.
Results from 2023’s Quality of Life survey highlighted that food insecurity is notably worse than last year and pre-pandemic. Eight per cent of respondents told us they are now experiencing moderate or worse food insecurity, doubling to sixteen per cent in the most deprived areas.
The way that food is produced, distributed, bought and sold, wasted and disposed of, is a major contributor to the climate and ecological emergencies too. 46 per cent of the Bristol population also struggle to maintain a healthy weight.
The framework sets out goals that we would like to meet in the next decade, including:
- More food in the city is sourced from local, regional and sustainable suppliers
- The best and most suitable land for growing food is identified and protected and the volume of land used for nature-friendly food growing has increased significantly
- Locally produced, sustainable, culturally appropriate and nutritious food is accessible and affordable for everyone
- Skills to cook, grow and choose climate-friendly, healthy food are taught in schools
- Less than ten per cent of household food waste ends up in black bins
Many of the goals set out in the framework need national policy change and, while progress on this has been frustratingly slow, the framework underpins and adds to the work we’re already doing as a council adminstration to support families and reduce food poverty in our city.
The Household Support Fund (HSF) has allowed us to ensure those who are eligible receive free school meal (FSM) vouchers. In the last financial year, the £8 million of funding we secured from the government for the HSF provided support to over 91,000 households. This included almost 23,000 children and young people being given FSM vouchers during school holidays.
Last year, £1.8 million of funding from the government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme enabled us to provide activities and food over the holidays through Your Holiday Hub for people in receipt of benefits-related free school meals. For additional support residents that are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, may be eligible to get help to buy healthy food and milk with the NHS Healthy Start scheme.
The framework embraces meaningful collaboration with residents and communities, and truly captures what good food looks like across Bristol. I am proud to live in a city that has the ambition, expertise, diversity and determination to achieve the goals set out in this framework.