Steel to Gold campaign

#SteelToGold – ShefFood’s New Campaign

Sheffield is renowned for its rich industrial heritage. Still, as the city of trees with one of the greenest skylines in the UK, it is also known for its commitment to sustainability and community well-being. ShefFood, Sheffield’s dynamic food partnership, is at the forefront of this movement and has recently launched its ambitious campaign, #SteelToGold. The goal? To secure Sheffield the prestigious Sustainable Food Places Gold Award by 2030, building upon the city’s prior achievements of winning bronze in 2021 and silver in 2023.

Though the target year may seem distant, the urgency to enact change is palpable. The campaign aims to transform Sheffield into a fairer, healthier, and greener city with a resilient and sustainable food system accessible to all its residents. To achieve this vision, ShefFood spearheaded the Local Food Action Plan development, unveiled in Summer 2023. While many initiatives will help Sheffield on its path to a better food future, the LFAP and its comprehensive roadmap are excellent examples of the work to be undertaken over the next 6+ years that will really make an impact.

The Local Food Action Plan (LFAP)  represents a collaborative effort involving over 100 organisations across Sheffield committing to 70+ actions. The organisations include public institutions like Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, The University of Sheffield, Hallam University, and Sheffield City Council. However, local businesses and community organisations are also represented, from large-scale volunteer projects like Food Works Sheffield to small community retailers like Porter Brook Deli, charities such as the Church on the Corner, and everyone in between.  Together, these organisations are working tirelessly to overhaul Sheffield’s food system, ensuring that it serves the needs of its diverse population while safeguarding the environment for future generations.

The scale of the changes we need is vast, but here are some areas that ShefFood and its partners are already working on and some of the projects being implemented so far. 

One of the primary focuses of the #SteelToGold campaign is to revolutionise procurement practices within public institutions. Institutions like our hospitals and universities are pivotal players in driving change, as they serve large populations and have significant purchasing power. By prioritising locally sourced, sustainable produce, these institutions not only support local farmers and reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation but also ensure that nutritious food reaches those who need it most. A  new research project between The Centre for Local Economic Strategies, Fork – Food in Place Ltd, and the University of Sheffield has just been approved to identify the most promising ways to improve public food procurement and make it work more effectively for our communities. 

Furthermore, ShefFood advocates investing in green infrastructure to support sustainable food production and distribution. These projects are instrumental in building a more resilient and equitable food system, from urban agriculture initiatives to developing community gardens and food hubs. By fostering collaboration between different groups and organisations, the aim is to create a network of sustainable food producers and distributors to meet the city’s growing demand for fresh, healthy produce.

To do this, we must support local farmers and producers through financial incentives, training programs, and marketing support; empowering local agricultural enterprises to thrive in a competitive market. By championing the principles of fair trade and ethical sourcing, we ensure that Sheffield’s food system is rooted in equity and social justice principles. Some fantastic organisations already helping to work towards these goals include The University of Sheffield, Regather Cooperative, Abundance, Sheffield Organic Growers, Heeley and District Allotment Protection Society and Moss Valley Market Gardens. 

Education plays a vital role in the mission to promote sustainable food practices. Through workshops, cooking classes, and educational campaigns, we can empower residents with the knowledge and skills to make informed choices about their food consumption. We can foster a culture of healthy eating and food sovereignty from an early age by promoting awareness of the benefits of seasonal, locally sourced produce and teaching essential cooking skills. Some of the organisations leading in this area are Eat Smart Sheffield, Sheffield is Sweet Enough, Food Works, Shine Health Academy, Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital and Citizen’s Advice Sheffield.  

As Sheffield marches towards the Sustainable Food Places Gold Award, the dedication and collaboration of ShefFood and its partners are helping us look to a brighter future. While the journey ahead may be challenging, the collective efforts of public institutions, businesses, and community organisations demonstrate the city’s unwavering commitment to creating a fairer, healthier, and greener Sheffield for generations to come. 

Steel to Gold campaign

Through the #SteelToGold campaign, Sheffield is not just striving for recognition—it is paving the way for a more sustainable and inclusive future. If you’d like to learn more about the initiative and get involved as a business or individual in the fight for a fairer food system, please visit the ShefFood website for more information.  You can also read the full action plan on their Strategy and Research Documents page to learn more about all the projects being undertaken. 

Food, Health & Obesity In Sheffield

The Good Food Movement

Growing & Composting