Local approaches for a good food economy
Summary from Sustain's 'Good Food for All Londoners' Report of our work with Southwark and Greenwich Councils.
Sustain advocates for a good food economy that builds community wealth through creating jobs and circulating money locally, celebrating locally sourced or made foods and diverse cultures. Locally run good food enterprises and localised shorter
supply chains that provide food for these businesses have a significant role to play in boosting jobs and the local economy, supporting agroecological farmers, improving public health, as well as taking action on climate and nature.
With the impact of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis, millions of people across the UK are struggling to afford and access the food they need, with councils and many others significantly increasing the amount they spend on food purchasing. Many London councils have realised the power of their procurement as well as the importance of a good food economy in building resilience, and are exploring ways to. support food entrepreneurs and enterprises to thrive, including many social enterprises who sell healthy and sustainable food.
Find out more below about three different areas where councils can foster a good food economy.
One approach being taken by a number of councils in London is to target convenience stores to make healthier food and drink options more accessible to shoppers.
Why convenience stores?
The pandemic showed how convenience stores are an integral part of local communities, with many families in low-income areas relying on them for their daily food needs. However, these stores often stock fewer healthier options owing to a lack of confidence
by retailers that the products can sell. The cost-ofliving crisis has put further pressure on the situation with many healthier products being more expensive.
Local interventions supported by national wholesalers has achieved some exciting scalable results.
What councils are doing: A healthy food basket approach
Two examples of councils working with convenience stores to improve their healthy food offer are Southwark and Greenwich.
In Southwark, the council and Impact on Urban Health jointly commissioned Rice Marketing to support 40 trial stores located in low-income areas of Southwark to achieve a 22% increase in the availability of healthier options. Retailers welcomed impartial advice on what healthier options to stock from a Top 100 product action plan. The campaign was supported by 13 suppliers and work with local Cash and Carry, Bestway Wholesale, saw a 1000% increase in the sales of healthier options following a two-day push campaign.
In addition, all 40 stores will receive collateral promoting their acceptance of the new digital Healthy Start card to increase uptake in the borough and through convenience stores. The project is now moving in to a second phase which will expand the number of convenience stores involved, enhance promotion of Healthy Start and further the work with wholesalers.
In Greenwich, the Good Food Retail subgroup has been planning a cross-borough approach to the convenience store model, building on their pilot from 2020. Starting in
a Superzone, a group of council and third-sector officers will be guided through the Healthy Basket Model by Rice Marketing, with a view to building in-borough skills to
make the work sustainable.
What can councils do?
Through bringing together Public Health specialists with those working with local business and on economic growth and skills, councils can start to look at ideas that build healthier options and help SMEs to capture some of the market growth in this area.
To find out more or to discuss a project idea, contact Stephanie Rice email@example.com
We were delighted to see Southwark and Greenwich councils win awards for their leadership in helping to improve access of healthier food at The Good Food for All Londoners awards.