After the usual January that feels like forever, 2023 is already shaping into an exciting year for food in Sheffield. ShefFood, the food partnership for Sheffield, is driving forward policy and projects with the help of its city-wide network of partners, the Universities and the council. Focusing on building a good food movement across the city, they plan to make food vital in our local economy, supporting our communities and improving health through locally grown, delicious foods. The approach looks to the future, but the projects are trying to deal with the real problems the city faces today, in the here and now.
Currently, Sheffield, as with most of the UK, is experiencing increasing levels of deprivation due to the cost of living crisis. This crisis is damaging people’s access to nutritious, sustainable, affordable food. Firstly, increases in food, fuel and energy costs are forcing people to cut their household costs, often on groceries. Some have already had to choose between heating and eating this year. Secondly, the supplies and energy price increases have significantly affected independent businesses and charities that, as yet, are receiving no financial support from the government. This has forced them to raise prices, reduce the support or, unfortunately, shut down altogether. In the case of food charities especially, this further strains the vulnerable communities that they support.
It is more vital than ever that we work together to make our neighbourhoods and the people that live there more resilient to increasing costs and lack of food access. Here is how ShefFood plans to do it.
Working towards a Silver Sustainable Food Places Award
If you’ve not heard about ShefFood before, they are a cross-sector partnership of public agencies, businesses, and academic and community organisations committed to creating a more sustainable food system for Sheffield. They are part of the UK’s Sustainable Food Places (SFP) network and helped Sheffield achieve its SFP Bronze Award in 2020. In order to further developments towards a fairer, more sustainable food system in Sheffield, the next goal is working towards the Silver award, which is well on the way to being achieved within the next few years.
To reach this goal, ShefFood is helping organisations in the city on some key food policy areas; economy, food access, growing and composting and health. These issues are tied to a working group of businesses, charities and organisations specialising in the field. ShefFood is also being supported by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Sheffield, and FixOurFood, a research group helping transform Yorkshire’s food system. This vast collaboration of specialists has been writing a food plan for the city at ShefFood’s working group events in January. These events will continue throughout February and March, and once each part of the plan is written, they will be brought together to form a full plan of action.
ShefFood has also recently expanded its operations to make 2023 an even more productive year. Sophie Rowson has come on board as the Deputy Partnership Coordinator to support the work of ShefFood’s Partnership Coordinator Selina Treuherz. Sophie has a wealth of research experience to bring to the team with a BA and Master’s in Human Geography and working in research roles for the University of Sheffield and the University of York. She also has hands-on experience as a Community Development Officer for Heeley City Farm and volunteering at Foodhall, Food Works Sheffield and Museums Sheffield Trust. This role will extend ShefFood’s capacity and advance Sheffield’s chances of achieving the Silver award.
Of course, Sheffield already has a fantastic food landscape, from farmers growing and producing foods in the Moss Valley to famous condiment makers old and new. Every suburb has a vibrant world of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops. The city must keep these businesses going through the tough times ahead and support this industry’s expansion. So while Sheffield clearly deserves the Silver award, it’s more about the lasting impact any policies will have on the city’s people.
How you can get involved
ShefFood’s philosophy is that it takes people to make a change, which is why they encourage everyone to get involved in the food strategy. It’s not just experts but the communities across the city that put the words into action!. We all need to have our say, so ShefFood is inviting all members of the public to share their voices and help grow the food network. Sheffielders can help in these three ways:
- Help ShefFood grow by visiting their website (sheffood.org.uk) and following them on social media @sheffoodsocial on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- Support local where you can, buying local food and drink or eating at food businesses throughout the city. Check out the partner page on the ShefFood website.
- Come to a working group meeting. Check out the ShefFood website for more details on when and where the next events are.
For more information, please contact ShefFood’s Partnership Coordination Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.