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Members' views sought on Mayor's new food strategy

Date Posted: 06 June 2018

Overview

  1. The Mayor of London has launched his draft food strategy setting out his vision to improve our city’s food system as a key part of his social fairness and economic equality agenda. It contains a number of proposals including a ban on the advertising of unhealthy food and drink across the TfL estate, reducing food insecurity by promoting the London Living Wage and tackling holiday hunger.
  2. Engagement and discussions with London’s voluntary and community based organisations provided the development framework for the Strategy - whether they have been regarding the challenge to advertising and sponsorship policy at a local authority level or how best to tackle food poverty, promote breastfeeding, cut food waste, support community food growing and improve school food and public food procurement.
  3. Food poverty can be defined as the inability to afford, or to have access to, the food needed for a healthy diet[1]. By specifying ‘healthy’, this definition demonstrates the issue is about nutrition as well as hunger.
  4. London families urgently need a food strategy that takes immediate action to reduce food poverty and tackle the particular circumstances that lead to food insecurity and malnutrition.

As you read this summary, please keep in mind the following questions:

  • Are the six priority areas the Mayor has set out the right ones?
  • Are there other priorities that should be considered?
  • Do you agree with the proposed ban of advertising food and drink that isn't healthy across the Transport for London network? 
  • What are you or your organisation doing to support good food in London? What best practice already exists in the priority areas?

Send your views on this, examples of your work or questions of your own to the 4in10 team by June 27 2018 for inclusion in our response. 

 

Six Priorities of the Draft Food Strategy

  1. Good food at home – reducing food insecurity

Aim: To help tackle rising levels of household food insecurity and ensure all Londoners can eat well at home 

  • Many Londoners cannot afford to buy or have access to healthy food. In order to tackle food insecurity, we need to tackle the causes of poverty and inequality in access to food.
  • In the strategy, proposals include the promotion of the London Living Wage as well targeted support for local authorities to help them develop Food Poverty Action Plans, design good food retail plans and improve the provision of and access to food during school holidays. 
  1. Good food shopping and eating out

Aim: To support good food businesses to improve London’s food environment and make healthy, affordable options more widely available to Londoners 

  • London has the highest rates of child obesity in England and areas of deprivation have the high the highest levels. There are also more take-aways in these areas than more affluent areas and they are less likely to have local shops that sell affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • The strategy acknowledges that language around “healthy choices” too often blames people for things that are not their fault and sets out plans to support Local Authorities increase access to healthy food in local shops and a possible ban on the advertising of food and drink that isn’t healthy across the TfL estate. 
  1. Good food in public institutions and community settings

Aim: To work with public sector partners to improve their food procurement for the communities they serve 

  • Places where communities come together, such as children’s centres, have a role to play in creating a healthy and sustainable food environment. Night workers and those on shift patterns have particular difficulty accessing affordable, healthy food whilst at work.
  • The strategy intends to help improve the offer of affordable, healthy food to night workers in London, create an environment where those who wish to breastfeed in public institutions and community settings feel comfortable to do so and boost uptake of the Healthy Starts vouchers to 80% of eligibility. 
  1. Good food for maternity, early years, education and health

Aim: Use good food to help give Londoners the best possible start to life 

  • Health inequalities can start in the antenatal stage and continue throughout a child’s life. Supporting good maternal health is fundamental to positive pregnancy outcomes, healthy infants and young children. Food education and food environments around a family’s home or a child’s school can also affect eating habits and diet.
  • The strategy outlines plans for a restriction on new hot food takeaways from being permitted to open within 400 metres of an existing or proposed school as well as plans to increase the prevalence of breastfeeding by encouraging all London boroughs to become UNICEF UK Baby-Friendly Initiative accredited in maternity and community services. 
  1. Good food growing, community gardens and urban farming

Aim: Promoting the multiple benefits of food growing for individuals and communities 

  • Low income families in London struggle to afford healthy fresh fruit and vegetables. Community gardens and food growing projects could help improve access as well as bringing other benefits.
  • The strategy does not mention low income families specifically but says it intends to look at the opportunities to work with social housing partners and council planning departments in order to protect and promote growing spaces and opportunities.
  1. Good food for the environment

Aim: Reduce the environmental impact of our food system by making it more efficient and less wasteful 

  • London’s food system is a major determinant of air quality. Children in poverty in London are worst affected by air pollution: 85% of London schools most affected by air pollution have pupils that come from deprived neighbourhoods[2].
  • The strategy does not mention the specific impact air pollution has on children in poverty but proposes ways to develop more sustainable production, transportation and consumption methods.

Questions (please answer as many as you wish to): 

  1. Are the six priority areas the Mayor has set out the right ones?
  2. Are there other priorities that should be considered?
  3. Do you agree with the proposed ban of advertising food and drink that isn't healthy across the Transport for London network? 
  4. What are you or your organisation doing to support good food in London? What best practice already exists in the priority areas?

Send your views on this, examples of your work or questions of your own to the 4in10 team by June 27 2018 for inclusion in our response. 

 

[1] Department for Health

[2] FIA Foundation (2017) https://www.fiafoundation.org/blog/2017/september/london-s-polluted-schools-the-social-context

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