The Leeds Food Charter is an internal Leeds City Council initiative, which will be published soon. The Leeds Food Partnership aims to adapt, adopt and evolve the Charter on behalf of the city as a whole.
This page outlines the development of the Charter to date. Please leave any comments below.
From 2006 to 2010, Leeds had a food strategy in place. The purpose of the strategy was to promote a co-ordinated and sustainable approach to increase people’s ability to eat healthy food in Leeds. Food is a cross cutting priority for Leeds City Council (LCC). The LCC ambition set out in the Best Council Plan 2013 – 2017 aims for Leeds to be fair, open and welcoming with an economy that is both prosperous and sustainable so all our communities are successful. Food has a strong role to play in supporting the achievement of this ambition.
In September 2014, Feed Leeds requested for LCC to initiate a new food strategy. The deputation proposed the development of an integrated cross-council strategy, produced in partnership with business, academia and civil society. In line with good practice the Public Health’s response to deputation recommended the commissioning of a Food Audit to consider assets and stakeholder involvement in a strategic approach to food.
The Audit is now complete http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?Id=43579
The recommendations in the report involve a range of different partners and are being shared across the council and with partners across the city.
Why is food important?
The current and future well-being of the people of Leeds can be significantly improved by developing a strategic approach to food. A strategic approach if properly developed, embraced and implemented, will result in a healthier population, a reduction in hunger, mitigation of (and adaptation to) climate change, decreases in energy consumption, improved environmental conservation, rural and inner city economic development, a reduction in socioeconomic inequality, a safer and more secure food system, and savings to budgets, especially in spending on health care and waste management. The food system’s diagram below shows all the policy areas in which food contributes.
Why a charter for Leeds?
A Food Charter is viewed as the most effective way of developing a strategic approach to food and nutrition for Leeds based on the recommendation of the Leeds Food Audit which identified that there is a lot of food work already progressing in the city and this would benefit from being more integrated. The Charter methodology enables a clear vision to be developed which encourages city partners to work on shared principles, creating consistency across settings.
Good practice from the Sustainable Food Cities Network outlines that a Charter is an effective way of outlining the local food priorities and the basic principles that the local partners are working on. The benefits of developing a Charter are the document is easily digestible and often promoted as a way of influencing local organisations and businesses to adopt the principles and show support for a local food vision.
The local food priorities for Leeds have been identified in the Audit based on the 6 key areas for action highlighted by Sustainable Food Cities:
- Promoting healthy and sustainable food to the public.
- Tackling food poverty, diet-related ill health and access to healthy food.
- Building community food knowledge, skills, resources and projects.
- Promoting a vibrant and diverse sustainable food economy.
- Transforming catering and food procurement.
- Reducing waste and the ecological footprint of the food system.
Many partners working across the city have a role in the six key areas for action above and were consulted as part of the audit commissioning process.
Leeds City Council (LCC) is leading the development of a Food Charter for Leeds. In the first instance, the Charter is being developed by officers from across council teams, to clearly identify LCC’s role in food. The Charter will consider goals which capture and build on food work progressing in the city.
Broader context for Food Strategy
Feed Leeds have taken a pro-active role in raising awareness of the importance of an effective food system. Key partners in the group and others interested in the local food system have now initiated the Leeds Food Partnership which aims to provide an opportunity for food system partners to work on shared priorities. Working alongside council officers the group is keen to take ownership of the Charter and its implementation.
The new partnership is developing in a voluntary capacity and currently includes input from the Public Health Team. The partnership has been successful in applying to the Sustainable Food Cities Network to fund a Sustainable Food Cities Co-ordinator match funded by the University of Leeds. The Sustainable Food Cities Co-ordinator will be responsible for the development of the Leeds Food Partnership and take ownership for the development of an action plan.
The partnership as it develops will consider its role in the Leeds Food System, alongside other food related groups including, but not limited to:
- Feed Leeds – with a focus on food growing
- Eatwell Forum – with a focus on food education and skills
- Food Aid Network – with a focus on tackling food poverty
- Older People Food Matters – with a focus on tackling malnutrition
- Leeds School Meals Strategy – with a focus on school food
It would be sensible for the Leeds Food Partnership to facilitate discussions between the above groups to foster food systems thinking and create joined up action, as recommended in the Leeds Food Audit report.