Bundle: Food

Food as a local government issue

In this bundle, we bring together much of our recent work on food issues and the impact of Covid-19 on many aspects of food policy all from a local government perspective. After all, what can be more important than the food on our plates?

Food is an incredibly complex and often contentious topic with concerns such as obesity and hunger entangled with issues of inequality, climate change, supply chains, producers, supermarkets, and the economy. This bundle draws together some of these different threads and reflects on the important leadership and delivery role that local government plays in addressing this challenging issue.

Household food insecurity is a key part of this bundle. A pressing concern even before the pandemic, hunger and deprivation has been an important topic of conversation in recent months as levels of employment dropped and economic insecurity worsened. Our most recent podcast, LGIU Fortnightly 6 August: Food security and access, looks at food security during the pandemic, including an interview with the British Red Cross.  Additionally, the issue of obesity has also been brought to the fore through this health crisis as weight has proved to be an important risk factor in the impact of Covid-19, something that has catalysed a recent government strategy to reduce levels of obesity in the UK.

These briefings and blogs also cover the relationship between food, sustainability, and climate change. This is a link that relates closely to LGIU’s Sustainable Futures work and is one that must be addressed to prevent further health and ecological crises. Food waste, urban gardening and low-impact diets are all key issues covered by the briefings in this bundle.

Local governments play a key role in understanding these complex issues and in translating them into actions such as the meals served in council-run facilities, support for community-led initiatives, and broader environmental and social policy change. With this in mind, this these briefings reflect on examples of local government good practice including School Meals at East Ayrshire Council and the Food for Life Scotland programme.

Listen to our latest podcast on food insecurity and Covid-19 here: LGIU Fortnightly 6 August: Food security and access

Food insecurity

State of Hunger: a study of poverty and food insecurity in the UK

The Trussell Trust’s first report of a three-year State of Hunger study in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and Asda’s Fight Hunger Create Change aims to provide a robust evidence base on the drivers of food insecurity and to recommend effective policy interventions to address the root causes. Read this briefing.

Food deserts: increasing access to healthy, affordable food

10.2 million people are estimated to live in food deserts in the UK. This briefing looks at the challenges of quantifying and assessing food availability and increasing access to healthy food options in low income areas. Read this briefing.

Community Food Strategies: local ingredients, national impact

Community Food and Health Scotland was first established in 1996 and has been part of NHS Health Scotland since 2013. Informed by many years of close engagement with the field, this briefing examines evidence from some of the programme’s most recent activity, from cooking classes to community retailing to effective research and measurement, and looks at how these local mechanisms might impact both food insecurity and obesity at a national level. Read this briefing.

Food and the Covid-19 pandemic

Swift Read: How local authorities have addressed food access challenges during Covid-19

During the coronavirus crisis, food access and food poverty have been urgent issues for local authorities across the UK. This swift read addresses how local authorities might consider informing their approach to food in the future. Read this briefing.

Covid-19 and food supply: the impacts on fishing and farming industries

The result of Covid-19 is a situation where largely, food is still available in the nets and in the fields – but it is not reaching the shelves. Farmers and fishermen are turning to new methods of reaching customers, assisted by local government and communities who have played a key role in the approach. Read this briefing.

Is it Percy Pig’s fault? Food poverty and access in the pandemic and beyond

Food poverty and food bank usage have become a high profile issue during the pandemic: what has impacted on food poverty and which population groups have been worst affected? In this briefing, we look at the evidence. Read this briefing.

Food and sustainability

Cut the Bull: how changing your diet could help save the planet

As the effects of climate change become better recognised, more attention is being focused toward the issue of food impacts on climate change. This briefing will make recommendations on the ways in which local government can address issues of health and climate change through diet. Read this briefing.

Organics as a resource: removing household waste from the waste stream

This briefing looks at household organic waste management: the size of the problem, how local governments are working to divert organic waste from landfill, and the supporting infrastructure and services required to make smarter use of organic waste. Read this briefing.

Food for Life Scotland – using public sector food services to deliver on health, climate and economic priorities

Soil Association Scotland’s ‘Food for Life Scotland’ programme supports local authorities in serving sustainable food in schools through an award scheme. This briefing highlights the key learning opportunities, as well as examining more broadly the role of local government in delivering public sector food that complements public health, environmental, and local economic priorities. Read this briefing.

Food, nutrition and health

Veg out: why 5 A Day hasn’t worked

This briefing looks at the reasons the 5 A Day campaign has failed to improve people’s eating habits, and how barriers to change could be removed. It is likely to be useful to those with an interest in public health or behaviour change. Read this briefing.

‘Tackling obesity’ UK Government: does it go far enough?

The UK government’s latest strand in the national obesity strategy has been sparked by the growing understanding that obesity leads to greater risk of severe symptoms of Covid-19. It has been widely welcomed, but there are questions about its ambition.

In Conversation With: Ten years of Gold School Meals in East Ayrshire Council with Andrew Kennedy

East Ayrshire Council’s Andrew Kennedy talks to LGIU about the Food for Life Served Here certification scheme aimed at improving school meals in Scotland. The EAC school meals service is recognised widely for taking a lead in providing high-quality and sustainable meals. Read this briefing.