Success on a plate: Bristol scoops UK sustainable food city title

March 22, 2016

Bristol’s pioneering work to promote healthy and sustainable food has earned it the title of the UK’s most sustainable food city.

It landed the accolade from the Sustainable Food City Network, which launched the award last year to highlight and celebrate the success of places that take a joined-up, holistic approach to food and are achieving significant positive change on a range of key food issues.

Bristol is only the second city to gain silver status – at present the top award possible – following on from Brighton and Hove, which collected the award last year. No city has achieved gold yet as the standard is still being developed.

Entrants are judged around six themes – healthy and sustainable food, tackling food poverty, the local food economy, community activity, public sector food and waste.

Bristol has been working towards making its food system healthier and more resilient for over two decades and collaborative working is at the heart of the city’s success.

The application was prepared and submitted on behalf of the city by the Bristol Food Policy Council, which brings together a wide range of stakeholders from businesses, community groups and public bodies who want to improve Bristol’s food system.  Bristol City Council also contributed to the bid.

Food Policy Council chair Simon Wood, who is also a director of North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “By working together, organisations across the city have already achieved great things.

“It is outstanding and a credit to so many people that Bristol has gained a silver award, showing that it is a place where people really care about their city and its people are motivated towards being a Sustainable Food City.”

Bristol City Council public health director Becky Pollard added: “As a city we are working to change the way people think about food, waste and sustainability, to make Bristol a better place for everyone.

“There are currently hundreds of initiatives across Bristol that are changing the way people relate to food and food production. These projects are hugely varied and many are run independently, yet they’re all joined behind a shared vision.

Dozens of free events will take place next month as part of the Bristol Food Connections Festival. The Bristol Food Network project aims to change the way we think about food. More than 115,000 people took part in 130-plus events across the city in last year’s festival.

Other key projects which demonstrate the work Bristol has done to become a sustainable food city include:

• The Healthy Schools Programme, which has embedded healthy and sustainable food as a curriculum-wide issue in many primary and junior schools, reaching all parts of the city. The ambition is to get every school in the city on board.
• The Edible Parks Policy actively encourages city residents to use parks, open spaces, housing estates and other areas to grow food for the community.
• Public Health Bristol supports community-led food projects including community food co-ops, vegetable and fruit box schemes, community food shops, cooking skills classes, ‘cooking from scratch’ campaigns, fruit and vegetable promotions. Encouraging more citizens to maintain a healthy weight is a priority.
• One Tree Per Child – planting a tree for every primary school aged child in the city, including fruit trees and giving children the chance to plant fruit trees at home
• Bristol Fairtrade runs the Fairtrade Business Awards incentivising local businesses to buy and promote Fairtrade products.

The Sustainable Food City Network is a body made up of the Soil Association, the Bristol-based charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use; Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming representing around 100 national public interest organisations; and Food Matters, a not-for-private-profit, national food policy and advocacy organisation encouraging and supporting change towards sustainable, fair food systems.

 Pictured: the Big Book of Healthy Schools (photo by Mark Simmons)

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