Healthy sustainable food

There is increasing awareness that our food system needs to become fairer, healthier and more sustainable if we are to tackle some of today’s social, economic, environmental and public health problems. Food insecurity amongst vulnerable individuals and families is growing rapidly as a result of increasing levels of economic hardship.

Food aid and food waste

An overview of food aid provision published by the Scottish Government in 2013 provided a snapshot of emergency food aid providers in Glasgow and other cities in Scotland concluding that welfare reform, benefit delays, benefit sanctions and falling incomes were the main factors driving increased demand for food aid and that this was a rapidly changing landscape. 

Since then, the Poverty Alliance has highlighted increasing use of emergency food aid provision through food banks. An All Party Parliamentary Enquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty in Britain has reported on the subject. More information on food bank use in Scotland can be found on our Understanding Glasgow website.

Tackling food waste is also an important part of changing our food system; according to Zero Waste Scotland, Scottish households throw away 566,000 tonnes of food waste every year.  

Sustainable food strategies

A growing number of cities across the UK and Europe have developed sustainable food strategies, supported by networks such as the UK Sustainable Food Cities NetworkSustainable Food in Urban Communities and CityFood Network.  Across Glasgow there are around 50 community based projects and organisations, including 32 allotment sites, involved in community growing. These include Urban Roots, the North Glasgow Community Food InitiativeGlasgow Allotments ForumConcrete Garden LocavorePlaybustersFare Share Glasgow and many others. 

A number of participative events have taken place in Glasgow to discuss how Glasgow might become a sustainable food city and what practical actions could be undertaken. As a result the Glasgow Food Policy Partnership was formed in 2014 bringing together key public, private and voluntary sector organisations with the objective of supporting action to create a fairer, healthier, more sustainable and resilient food system in Glasgow. Priority themes have been proposed as initial areas of focus for the partnerships work which include: food poverty, food behaviours, culture and skills, local food economy, catering and waste.

The partnership will seek to complement and potentially link to other initiatives in the city such as Sustainable Glasgow, the TSB Future Cities Demonstrator ProjectGlasgow’s Green Year 2015 and the Sustainable Allotment Site Awards.

Events, presentations and blogs

Check our blog for discussion and comment on food sustainability - including blogs from Fiona CrawfordAde Kearns and Katherine Trebeck.

In October 2015, we organised an event on behalf of the Glasgow Food Policy Partnership (GFPP), to discuss the current responses to food poverty and food insecurity in Glasgow, and to explore what the recently established GFPP could do to support these responses and help develop a sustainable approach to addressing food poverty.

This event was intended to help shape and inform the GFPP's future work plan and to provide support for a more integrated response to food poverty in Glasgow that supports people in and through food poverty to achieve food security. It was a highly participative event which involved people currently planning or delivering food poverty related work across Glasgow and aimed to help improve understanding about what is going on where and by whom, what the opportunities and challenges are, and how the GFPP can help. Download the event report (PDF).

In 2014, Professor Kevin Morgan from Cardiff University presented a clear call to action in relation to the potential for Glasgow to take action as well as examples of good practice from elsewhere at the ‘Towards a Sustainable Food City’ event.

Related topic: Health behaviours and more on young people and the food environment