In June, ShefFood, the Sheffield Food Partnership, launched Sheffield’s Local Food Action Plan (LFAP). The action plan, a collaborative document which involved almost 100 organisations from across the city, sets out a roadmap to make Sheffield’s food system more sustainable, affordable and accessible to all. From looking at health and obesity to the jobs the food industry creates, this revolutionary plan covers every aspect of food from farm to fork and beyond. However, one of the most critical parts of the LFAP was to mark the successes we’ve already achieved in our city. While we have a long way to go to make the best food system for our communities, it’s important to shout about our victories and celebrate the fantastic things happening in Sheffield today.
What is the LFAP?
If you are still getting familiar with the LFAP, it sets out 70+ specific commitments and activities from diverse organisations across the city. Developed from several working groups (The Good Food Movement, Food, Health & Obesity Board, Good Food Economy, Growing & Composting and Food Ladders), these actions support five critical strategies identified in meetings in 2022 and 2023. The strategies include the following:
- Strengthen food networks by developing skills and learning together.
- Build collective capacity to share and use data on Sheffield’s food system.
- Participate in making and delivering ambitious local food policy.
- Build an inclusive food movement.
- Leverage spaces for food initiatives.
Organisations across the city will implement 70+ actions over the next seven years and cover various projects and campaigns. By 2030, we hope the food system in Sheffield will be transformed entirely.
Success in the City
While the future work our city needs is being worked on, some established organisations and projects have made a tremendous difference to thousands of people in Sheffield. Here are some successes we’ve seen around the five working group areas.
Food Ladders & Provision
Sheffield is home to a unique mosaic of food provision that ranges from food banks to community pantries and social eating spaces. Here are just some of what has been achieved.
- Sheffield City Council passed the Food Access Plan in July 2022, which included investment for food community development.
- Food Works is collaborating with over 25 partner hubs to distribute frozen-ready meals across the city.
- The Food Ladders Report (2022) mapped food provision in Sheffield and outlined recommendations to build and develop current projects. In addition, an interactive map of food providers in the city is now available through Voluntary Action Sheffield.
- The Food Ladders Network responded quickly to Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis.
Growing & Composting
The growing and composting working group develops resilient practices from farm to fork and beyond, which reduce emissions and waste levels to feed tomorrow and today. Here are some excellent schemes we’ve seen grow in Sheffield.
- Nature-friendly urban and peri-urban farms and market gardens are recognised by Sustain’s ‘Fringe Farming’ programme as leading the way in increasing local food production, building food security and tackling the climate crisis.
- Researchers, such as The University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food, are working hard to secure the future of Sheffield’s nature-friendly, low-carbon food production.
- Sheffield City Council has formally recognised the role of land use change in achieving net zero and the need to make more space available for food growing.
- Nature-friendly food production in South Yorkshire employs nearly 100 people.
- Locals consume more local produce thanks to collaborations between growing projects and eateries, from shops to cafes, food banks and social enterprises.
Good Food Economy
The Good Food Economy Working Group is dedicated to building a diverse and vibrant food economy that treats producers, customers, workers and nature well. Let’s look at how the sector has grown so far.
- UNICUS, Sheffield Hallam University, and Sheffield College are pioneering local food procurement and working to ensure that sustainability is a central concern.
- Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Taylor Shaw are increasing the number of vegetarian meals available in hospitals and schools, responsibly sourcing fish and using less but higher-quality meat.
- Sheffood’s Good Food Economy and Procurement Working Group has expanded to include catering managers responsible for over 120,000 weekly meals.
- Sheffield has an abundance of independent cafes, restaurants and food businesses, many of whom have been nationally recognised for their outstanding food and sustainability principles.
Food, Health & Obesity
Everyone in Sheffield should be able to access and enjoy nutritious, healthy, culturally appropriate food that boosts their lifestyle, and that’s what the Food, Health & Obesity board is all about.
- Sheffield City Council’s Free School Meals Auto Enrollment Scheme with schools and caterers ensures families receive their FSM entitlement.
- The Eat Smart programme supports schools in thinking about food across the school day, encouraging healthy eating and healthier attitudes.
- Sheffield became the first standalone local authority in the UK to achieve the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative Gold Award.
- Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programmes deliver nutritious food across Sheffield and support nutritional education. 11,400 children in Sheffield attended a HAF activity in Summer 2022.
- Live Lighter runs 12-week groups for adults in Sheffield that focus on education, community, empowerment and small sustainable changes.
Good Food Movement
The Good Food Movement is about building public awareness, active food citizenship and a local good food movement. ShefFood and its partner organisations have achieved much in the last few years to make this work for all.
- ShefFood achieved the Bronze Sustainable Food Places Award in 2021 and is working towards a bid for Silver in July 2023.
- Pioneering organisations, including Regather, Food Works, The Sheffield Wheat Experiment, and S2 Food Bank, lead public food education and activism.
- ShefFood and its partners have been working with Sheffield City Council to develop a cross-sector food policy for the city.
- ShefFood continues collaborating on food systems research with The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.
- Sheffield is home to many fantastic food festivals and organisations, making food a celebration and central to our culture as a city.
Wow! Now that’s a lot of progress in just a few short years, but there is more to do, and ShefFood needs your help. Our food system only benefits everyone when we know how everyone in our community can be helped. So, ShefFood invites anyone interested in their local food system to attend an open meeting. The next meeting is from 1-3 pm on Tuesday, 15th August, at Soft Ground (The Moor), in the city centre.
The open meeting will include a storytelling workshop hosted by Pamela and Megan from the University of Sheffield. The story-telling workshop or ‘story circle’ is an opportunity for anyone involved in food-related activities in the city to come together to share their stories of working for change (however big or small!). Alongside the story-telling session, the meeting is an opportunity to find out what ShefFood have been up to and to share your thoughts on how they can take the Local Food Action Plan forward to deliver a Good Food Movement for the city.
Visit the ShefFood event page to find out more: https://sheffood.org.uk/events/