Birmingham joins Sustainable Food Cities Network

By on 06/08/2013 in Cllr Bedser, News
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Birmingham is bidding for a share of £1 million for a project using healthy and sustainable food to tackle social, economic and environmental problems including obesity, food poverty and climate change.

And officials are now working closely with partners across the city to draw up a Birmingham Food Charter.

In recognition of its pioneering work transforming food culture, Birmingham has been selected as a founding member of the UK-wide Sustainable Food Cities Network launched today, which will enable cities to learn from each other, working together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of their city.

As part of the Sustainable Food Cities programme - which is led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain and funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation – Birmingham will get a chance to be one of six cities to receive funding to become a model Sustainable Food City and to receive the national recognition of being formally awarded Sustainable Food City status.

More than 100 urban areas across the UK are expected to have joined the Sustainable Food City Network by the end of the three-year programme.

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, said: “This is a very exciting initiative. Studies have shown that community and family cooking initiatives can change attitudes to food and I'm delighted Birmingham has been selected as a founding member of the Sustainable Food Cities Network.

“We cannot afford to ignore the environmental impact of what we eat and, as a major city, it is right that Birmingham should be in the forefront when it comes to creating sustainable food cities.”

Council officials recently met with health partners, community food growing projects, local food businesses, social enterprises, universities and schools to draft Birmingham's Food Charter.

The aims include:

  • Tackling the barriers to healthy eating faced by those on low incomes.
  • Increasing food skills and knowledge
  • Halting the growth of childhood obesity
  • Radically reducing the level of food waste
  • Encouraging greater participation in individual and community food growing projects

Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, added: “The Food Charter commits the city to working towards reducing food waste, making it easier for everyone to eat more healthily regardless of income, and providing an environment which encourages cooking and food growing. Overall the hope is to change Birmingham's food culture for the better. Being part of the national Sustainable Food Cities Network is an extra bonus which should help us achieve our vision.”

Speaking about the Sustainable Food Cities project, Tom Andrews, Soil Association programme manager of Sustainable Food Cities said: “The Sustainable Food Cities programme is about using food to improve people's health and wellbeing, creating new businesses and jobs and reducing our impact on the environment. Food is not only at the heart of some of today's greatest challenges but is also a vital part of the solution. The Sustainable Food Cities Network will create cities where every school, hospital, restaurant and workplace canteen serve only healthy and sustainable meals; where everyone has access to affordable, fresh, seasonal, local and sustainably produced food no matter where they live; and where people of all ages and backgrounds have opportunities to learn about, grow and cook food. It is about creating cities where good food is visible and celebrated in every corner and where people's right to eat healthy and sustainable food is embedded into every relevant policy and strategy.”

The Sustainable Food Cities Network is an alliance of public, private and third sector organisations using food as a vehicle for driving positive changes. The Network helps people and places to share challenges, explore practical solutions and develop best practice in all aspects of sustainable food.

Ben Reynolds, Network Director at Sustain said: “With more than eighty per cent of us now living in urban areas, people in towns and cities can have a huge impact on our food system. What we grow, buy, cook or throw away can not only improve the health and well-being of our families, but also protect our countryside, wildlife and precious marine life, while improving the livelihoods of people on our doorstep and millions of miles away. The Sustainable Food Cities programme will help local communities to make that happen.”

Clare Devereux, Director at Food Matters said: “Our experience in Brighton and Hove has shown just what can be achieved if you get the right individuals and organisations together to develop a common vision of how they want to change their food system and then support them in turning that vision into reality. For many years, Brighton and Hove has been ahead of the game, but it is amazing how quickly and enthusiastically other towns and cities are now adopting similar approaches and starting to catch up.”


For press enquiries please contact:

Birmingham City Council

Geoff Coleman - 0121 303 3501

Soil Association

Natasha Collins-Daniel, Press Office Manager - 0117 914 2448 / 07827 925380

Holly Black, Digital Communications and Press Officer - 0117 314 5170

Notes to editors

For more information about Sustainable Food Cities visit –

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.