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Local and Sustainable Food

The food that we eat has an enormous impact on the environment, culminating from the resources needed to grow it, to safely transport it to us, how we cook it, and whether we waste any of it. There are many aspects to ‘sustainable’ food, including the type of food, where it was grown and how it is packaged. Supporting community food growing initiatives has the potential to alleviate food poverty, improve health and wellbeing and benefit the environment.

How to make a change in your community

  • Organise harvesting of urban fruit trees etc. to ensure that food does not go to waste. Redistribute the food within your community, or donate it at a food bank or food waste cafe to help those in need.
  • Plant new orchards for public use, including community fruit trees and bushes.
  • Support food sharing initiatives, such as community fridges. Encourage donations to food banks and food waste cafes, to limit food waste and help alleviate food insecurity.
  • Give priority market pitches to local producers, and those with sustainable business practices at farmers markets.
  • Encourage community food growing projects, for example through setting up new community gardens, or hosting an event like a seed swap, to get more people growing their own food.

Example Actions

  • Host an urban harvest event
  • Run a community meal event, to get people together to celebrate healthy sustainable food
  • Install a community fridge or pantry

Useful Links

Glean for Brum is an organisation that organises volunteering days to harvest surplus food from farms in and around Birmingham and get it to those in need. See what’s on at: https://www.facebook.com/GleanforBrum/

Incredible Surplus (originally the Real Junk Food Project) intercept food and other usable materials that would otherwise go to waste from supermarkets, restaurants and other sources, and provide them to individuals and community organisations on a “Pay-As-You-Feel” basis. https://incrediblesurplus.org/

Big Feed Community Café (by TAWS): Pick up healthy free meals from the Big Feed Project if you are in need, or contribute your time, money, or skills by volunteering with the café. Surplus food can also be donated at these locations, combining the fight against good waste, food poverty and social isolation. https://theaws.co.uk/big-feed/

FareShare Midlands redistributes surplus food to over 500 charities and community projects across the West and East Midlands region. Their website includes a detailed list of food support networks for individuals at https://fareshare.org.uk/getting-food/food-service-for-individuals/

Sustain are a national network of organisations running many different projects focused on building a better food system in the UK. https://www.sustainweb.org/projectsandcampaigns/

Suggested Tools

Bioregional offer Sustainability Consulting for Local Authorities. https://www.bioregional.com/projects-and-services/built-environment-consultancy/local-authorities

Net Zero Navigator tool for identifying and building plans to reach net-zero in UK local authority areas. https://netzero-navigator.oneplanet.com/ 

Join the Climate Emergency Network on Knowledge Hub, for sharing information between local authorities https://khub.net/web/climatelocal 

Local Government Association – Climate change hub, includes tools such as Greenhouse Gas Accounting tool for identifying baselines. https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/climate-change-hub

Support local businesses to pledge to reducing their environmental impact with the West Midlands Net Zero Business Pledge https://www.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/environment-and-energy/west-midlands-net-zero-business-pledge/ 

Ashden Sustainability plan Toolkit for Councils: https://ashden.org/tools-for-councils/ 

Funding 

The National Audit Office Report into Local Government and Net Zero identified £1.2 billion in specific grant funding available in 2020-2021 for local authorities to act on climate change, and notes this is a sixteen-fold increase on the previous year.

Download an Action Plan so you can set your own goals!





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