Islington Food Strategy

2023-2028

1. Introduction

Our food system is broken. Not everyone has access to healthy, safe and affordable food. Local businesses that have people and sustainability at their centre are often not able to survive. We are damaging our planet and nature through our food system practices. Communities need the power to make changes locally.

The facts show the situation in stark terms. The UK has the poorest diet across Europe [i]. Less than 1% of London’s food and beverages are produced locally [ii]. More than 2.3 million Londoners live below the poverty line [iii], including over a third of London’s children [iv].

The Islington Food Partnership is an independent and broad coalition of local organisations and individuals working together to build a thriving local food system for Islington. We work together across four themes, and are driven by our four shared principles across each:

  • Healthy affordable food for all. Everyone should be able to eat the food they need to thrive.
  • Sustainable local food economy. Good businesses and entrepreneurs should be able to thrive in Islington.
  • Climate and nature emergency. The way we live our lives should have a positive impact on nature and the planet.
  • People-powered change. People and communities coming together is the only route to achieving real change.

We know that these are significant goals, and much power and influence sits at a global and national level. So, we’re going to campaign for the changes we need to see at these levels. But change also happens from the bottom up, and there is a huge amount we can achieve by working together across the borough.

Indeed, there’s already much we and our members have achieved.

Through the pandemic in 2020, 310 tonnes of surplus food were redistributed across the borough, saving 930 tonnes of carbon and reducing resident food bills by £930,000 [v]. Islington has UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation for our children’s centres and health visiting, and all 10 libraries are Breastfeeding Welcome. Arsenal FC supports community food cooperatives to use their space to meet, and are becoming the first Premier League club to make their own honey. Islington is one of the few councils in England to guarantee every nursery and primary pupil gets at least one hot nutritious meal a day, by offering universal free school meals. Islington has an impressive food safety compliance rate of 92.8%. We are innovating to increase community food growing in our parks and streets and on our walls and roofs across the borough [vi], and we are developing a new high street community café and kitchen[vii].

There’s so much more that we’re sorry we can’t list – it would be far too long. In fact, in recognition of all that we’ve been building over the past few years, in 2022 Islington received the prestigious Sustainable Food Places Bronze Award, becoming only the fifth London borough to do so.

On top of this, we’re not the only ones working towards the same goals. There are more than 80 other Food Partnerships across the UK, and countless more individuals and organisations taking action to build a better food system for us all. 

Our Islington Food Strategy 2023-2028 outlines the ways we will work together to bring about change. We have outlined actions and commitments that you can take – as an individual, with others in your community, and in your job. We’ve highlighted those that are quick wins, and those that will have the highest impact. 

We’re asking everyone who reads this strategy to take 15 minutes of their time to reflect on how you, personally, can help achieve what we want to see in Islington. Even if you can pledge just one change, together we will make a huge difference. 

The Islington Food Partnership is hosted by Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, and led by our Strategic Board and Coordinating Group, each with members from different sectors. Within this strategy, we have outlined our actions and commitments that we will take as the Islington Food Partnership team over the next 5 years. As a Food Partnership, we see our main value in:

  • Leading by example in taking safe, healthy, ethical and sustainable approaches, and constantly reflecting on our work to ensure it is effective and inclusive
  • Advocating for our Partnership and citizens to influence policy and practice, both locally and nationally
  • Opening up funding, resources and opportunities for our Partnership and citizens
  • Gathering and sharing information, data and best practice
  • Delivering strategic projects to achieve our goals
  • Sharing key messages, promoting members and developing engagement
  • Bringing people together and creating partnerships

If you live in Islington and are struggling to access the food you and your family need, we are here to support you, both in the short and long term. If you or your community group are interested in setting up an action group or new local business, we can help you access the funding and advice you need. If you’re a local business, we can help build connections and advocate for the changes needed to ensure your business thrives. If you’re a charity or public sector service, we can collaborate on cross-sector approaches, and provide you with valuable data and funding opportunities. 

As we deliver the Islington Food Strategy over the next 5 years, we hope that you’ll see the difference that we make every day across Islington. 

For any Islington family, it’ll mean a lower likelihood of living in poverty, and an easy way for them to access quick and ongoing support if they are struggling. It’ll mean walking down the street and seeing more local, independent businesses, and more healthy and affordable options, including produce grown locally. It’ll mean breathing cleaner air and seeing more of our spaces used for community growing. It’ll mean being more connected to our local neighbours and communities, and knowing we have the power and voice to change things in our own borough of Islington.

2. Our approach

From the beginning of the development of this strategy, the partnership agreed a shared approach to guide the development and delivery of the strategy in the future.

Community-led and inclusive
This strategy is for everyone in our community, and should be led by all community voices. And it’ll keep changing and developing according to our communities’ needs and wants.

Innovative
This strategy draws upon the creativity and passion of our communities, opening up new opportunities for projects and initiatives, and bringing in innovations from other places.

Practical and achievable
This strategy is focused on practical actions we know we can achieve in the next few years, with the aim of moving us closer to our longer-term visions. Food systems work is huge, and much of what influences our local food system is beyond our immediate control, but we can contribute with many local changes. 

Short and accessible
This strategy is design to be used. We didn’t want a 200-page strategy that would sit on a shelf and hardly ever be looked at. We wanted to create something that will stay in people’s minds, and that everyone can feel a part of.

Recognised across the country for our success

This strategy brings together all the great work on food issues that has been happening in Islington for many years. We think we’ve got the foundations and the momentum to be at the forefront of local food systems work, and we will make sure we measure and share our successes (and failures) with others.

3. The strategy process

We developed this strategy throughout 2022, through:
1 thorough mapping of what’s already happening across the borough
Conversations with over 316 people
Working with 182 partnership members
5 community meals
220 meals shared together
4 strategy workshops
24 coordinating group and strategic board members writing and contributing

4.Timeline and context

 

Islington in context

 

  • 245,636 residents and 5.74 square miles [i]
  • The second most densely populated Local Authority (LA) area across England [ii], and the second smallest London borough by area [iii]
  • The sixth most deprived borough in London, 27.5% of children under 15 at 33% of adults over 60 in Islington live in income deprived households [iv]
  • Islington has moved from the 24th most deprived LA in England in 2015 to the 53rd most deprived in 2019 (out of 317 LAs) [v]
  • Only 13% of the borough’s land is green space, the second lowest proportion of any LA in the country [vi]
  • People aged 65 and over make up 9% of our population, less than the 12% London average [vii]
  • Islington is a proudly diverse borough, with 62% of our residents identifying as White, 13% as Black, 10% as Asian and 7% as other ethnic groups [viii]
  • 10.4% of people in Islington are disabled, the second highest in the Greater London area [ix]
  • About 1,700 infants in Islington (82%) are totally or partially breastfed at the 6-8 review check, significantly higher than the 48% England average [x]
  • Across London, Islington has the third highest proportion of adults eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day at 58%, and 44% of adults are living with excess weight, lower than the London average of 56% [xi] [xii]
  • 45% of Year 5 and 6 pupils and 68% of Year 8 and 10 pupils say they can cook a meal [xiii]
  • There are around 21,000 businesses in Islington, the vast majority of them small or micro (85% have 0-9 employees), providing some 230,000 jobs
  • There are almost 2,700 registered food businesses operating in Islington, including manufacturers, takeaways, cafes, restaurants, community food providers and retailers
  • Islington has three council supported markets and a Sunday farmers market, as well as two indoor and two outdoor private markets
  • Islington Food Partnership has a membership of 204 organisations and individuals, with community food services serving people each week. Anyone on our mailing list is considered a member, and you can sign up on our website or by emailing hello@islingtonfoodpartnership.org.uk.

5. Assets and risks

Our Islington Food Partnership members wanted us to include our reflection on both our assets and risks within this strategy, as these are the two most important factors that will influence our success

Assets

Diversity & community Islington is a proudly diverse borough, and our population’s diverse knowledge, experience and outlooks is one of our most important assets. We will succeed by drawing upon these strengths, and building power in our community.

Commitment to achieving our long-term aims Both across the political spectrum and within our communities, we are lucky enough to already have a network of people with influence who want to build a better local food system for Islington. Our main task is to collectively identify the best opportunities for change, whilst working with limited resources and time.

Independent businesses and innovators Islington is well known for its varied independent businesses – restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, markets, theatres, music venues and many more. We have local business owners who are building a better local food system in many ways, and entrepreneurs who have new innovations that will take us even further.

Active and varied voluntary and community sector (VCS) Islington is served by a wide variety of charities and community groups that support people in our community, for example providing crisis food support, mental and physical health services, poverty and debt support, and much more. The VCS is at the forefront of supporting people and bringing about long-term food system change.

Risks

Ensuring everyone is represented One of our most important responsibilities as a Food Partnership is ensuring everyone in our diverse borough has a voice in what we do, and that we move in a direction that our citizens want to see. That is why we took a year to develop this strategy, holding 5 community meals and speaking to over 220 residents as well as Partnership members from over 70 local organisations, to ensure it was community-led and inclusive. We also secured a grant focusing on our diversity, equality and inclusion as a Partnership and borough, and will continue to take steps to develop and improve our approaches. 

Reliance on external factors Much of what controls our local food system involves policies and practices that aren’t governed locally, and our food system is a global one, influenced by global affairs. We are fighting an uphill battle, given the current economic and political situation in the UK and Europe. The UK government response to the National Food Strategy recommendations in summer 2022 was disappointing, and represents a huge missed opportunity to implement the policy changes we desperately need. 

Given this, we will prioritise campaigning for wider policy and practice changes, working in partnership with other local food partnerships and national food organisations. Then we will also prioritise building the power of local people to create change, building a local economy that is less reliant on external factors, and targeting the local actions and commitments that will have the highest impact. 

Lack of funding and resources The current economic and political situation also means there is a lack of funding and resources available to put towards achieving our goals. This affects our citizens, who are facing a cost of living crisis; our local businesses, who have had to endure the impacts of the pandemic and economic downturn; councils, the NHS and other services, who have seen government funding decrease steadily over the past decade; and charities, who are working with less grants and donations available. 

However, we can still access funding in a number of ways, and use this in a clever way towards changing the local food system. There are also many actions and commitments we can take that do not take a huge amount of resources, and indeed there are many that will save organisations money. Islington is fast becoming a stand-out London borough for local food approaches, and through building our reputation, the Islington Food Partnership will work to bring more funding into the borough to support our goals. 

Prioritisation and identifying key opportunities for change Changing a local food system is complex, and it is not always clear where the key opportunities for change might be. We want to focus on the actions and commitments that could start a domino effect, encouraging further change to happen. We will prioritise learning from Food Partnerships across the country, to see what has worked (and not worked) elsewhere. We will focus on bringing more people on board- and changing hearts and minds – to create this domino effect, and support community-led solutions to the issues we face.

6. Defining some of our key terms

We’ve used some of the following terms as shorthand throughout this strategy. Here’s what we’re trying to capture when we use them.

What is a Food Strategy?

This Food Strategy is a set of actions and commitments to be taken by all of us, so that we can build a better local food system. It’s been created through over a year’s worth of discussions, events and emails, bringing together as wide a variety of voices as possible.

This strategy will act as a roadmap for all the work we prioritise in the coming 5 years. But it will also remain flexible, as more people get involved, and as context changes.

What is a Food Partnership?

A Food Partnership is a network of individuals and organisations that collaborate around a shared goal of building a better local food system.

There are over 80 Food Partnerships across the UK, and each will decide their own priorities and how to use their time most effectively.

In Islington, we work together across four themes, and are driven by our four shared principles across each:

  • Healthy affordable food for all. Everyone should be able to eat the food they need to thrive.
  • Sustainable local food economy. Good businesses and entrepreneurs should be able to thrive in Islington.
  • Climate and nature emergency. The way we live our lives should have a positive impact on nature and the planet.
  • People-powered change. People and communities coming together is the only route to achieving real change.

As the Islington Food Partnership team, we have also outlined the ways we want to prioritise the use of our time, in our actions and commitments section below. Overall, we aim to make a difference by:

  • Leading by example in taking safe, healthy, ethical and sustainable approaches, and constantly reflecting on our work to ensure it is effective and inclusive
  • Advocating for our Partnership and citizens to influence policy and practice, both locally and nationally
  • Opening up funding, resources and opportunities for our Partnership and citizens
  • Gathering and sharing information, data and best practice
  • Delivering central projects to achieve our goals
  • Sharing key messages, promoting members and developing engagement
  • Bringing people together and creating partnerships

 What do we mean by a (local) food system?

A food system is all the people, organisations and processes that are involved in how our food is grown, produced, transported, bought and sold, consumed and disposed of.

The way this system operates has a significant impact on our health, social interactions, the economy, the environment, and how equitable our society is. The Global Food Security Programme visualises this in the following diagram.

When we say we want to build a better local food system, we mean we want the money invested in this system to benefit local businesses and the local economy; that we want our food to be produced as locally as possible, to reduce negative environmental effects; and we want the food we consume to have positive effects on our health, social connections and ability to thrive in life.

Where does a circular economy fit into this?

A circular economy is one in which stuff is produced sustainably and kept in use for as long as possible, delivering the highest value it can, for as long as it can. So rather than making, using and throwing stuff away (a linear system), a circular economy means looking for new ways to use, re-use and recycle materials and deliver value back into the food system and the wider economy – using materials and products again and again, in many different forms. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation visualises it in the following diagram.

For example, in a food context, this could mean:

  • Transporting and providing food in packaging that is re-usable rather than single-use
  • Utilising food waste, for example as animal feed, compost or sustainable fuel
  • Enabling people to share products and space, minimising wasted resources

A circular economy is also one that keeps money flowing locally. When money is spent in local businesses, it is much more likely to be re-spent or re-invested locally, creating benefits for us all.

In Islington we have a Circular Economy Action Plan, and are committed to finding as many ways as possible to build circularity into our food system.

What makes food sustainable?

Food Matters defines sustainable food as food that is produced, processed, traded and disposed of in ways that:

  • Contributes to thriving local economies and sustains the livelihoods of people working in the food sector (i.e. has economic benefits)
  • Protects the diversity of both plants and animals, avoids damaging natural resources and avoids contributing to climate change (i.e. has environmental benefits)
  • Provides social benefits, such as good quality food, safe and healthy products and educational opportunities (i.e. has social benefits)

There’s no getting around the fact that eating sustainably means all of us making more plant-based choices and eating less animal products.

But this doesn’t have to mean changing everything overnight or giving up animal products completely. You can try approaches like meat-free Mondays, eating meat once a day, or even bulking out meat recipes with vegetables or pulses, which makes them healthier, cheaper and better for the planet. Animal welfare is an important factor too, so when you do eat animal produce, try to buy from organic and ethical businesses.

What do we mean by food insecurity?

We use the term food insecurity rather than food poverty because there are sometimes other reasons that people cannot access the food they need to thrive.

People experiencing food insecurity may not be able to afford the food they need. This might be during a relatively short period of time of financial difficulty, or it might be a long-term situation. Experiences can vary from worrying about not being able to secure enough food, to going whole days without eating.

Others may have financial means to purchase food, but still cannot access the food they need due to their physical or mental health, and may not have an appropriate support system in place.

No-one experiencing food insecurity is ever to blame for doing so. Access to food is a basic right and should be available to us regardless of circumstance. Our system is not set up to support everyone equally.

Food insecurity levels increased dramatically because of the Covid-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crisis. Some people are at higher risk of being food insecure, particularly families, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and children eligible for free school meals.  

The “poor tax” also makes accessing food much harder for lower income households. The poorest fifth of UK households need to spend 47% of their disposable income on food to meet the cost of the Government-recommended healthy diet, compared to 11% for the richest fifth[xii].

Everyone should have the food they need to thrive – what does this look like?

All food available in the borough should be safe and sustainable. Healthy and affordable options should be widely available. Everyone should have access to the food that meets their cultural, dietary and lifestyle requirements. It should also meet any relevant local and national guidance, for example infant feeding guidance, and food safety legislation.

This food should be available locally to where people live, work and visit, and should be available at all times.

Everyone should also have the equipment, resources, skills and knowledge to be able to prepare and eat this food.

What do you mean by community food services? How are these different to food banks?

In Islington, we are committed to offering community food services that go beyond the traditional food bank model. Just the name food bank carries a huge amount of stigma, and we want people to be offered a more dignified and supportive service than the image a food bank brings to mind.

A community food service might offer crisis services, in the form of a food package pick up or delivery. It might offer hot meals and a place for people to share food, perhaps alongside another activity – a cooking class or yoga maybe – or just some socialising.

Food insecurity levels increased dramatically as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crisis. Some people are at higher risk of being food insecure, including families, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and children eligible for Free School meals.

A community food service might also be led by communities themselves, for example as a food cooperative, where neighbours or friends pool together their money to buy wholesale food at cheaper prices and also access free surplus food – perfectly good food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Overall, we ask that any community food service offering support to people experiencing food insecurity:

  • Provides people access to the food they need to thrive, i.e. safe, sustainable, healthy food that meets dietary, cultural and lifestyle needs
  • Provides an accessible, inclusive and dignified service
  • Ensures access to wrap around support for underlying and additional circumstances related to their food insecurity
  • Support people to connect to and become part of community networks, solutions and initiatives, which we believe are the only true long-term route to food security

What do you mean by good businesses?

We want good businesses and entrepreneurs to be able to thrive in Islington. This means supporting local and independent businesses. It means supporting those who ensure ethical practices, for example paying the London Living Wage or offering Fairtrade goods, and sustainable practices that have a positive impact on nature and the planet. It means supporting those who provide safe food, and are committed to providing and promoting healthy and affordable food choices, and diverse options that meet our communities’needs.

This isn’t a one size fits all approach. We know for example, that food businesses that provide sustainable food options might have to charge a higher price, that may not be affordable to all. That’s OK as long as there are plenty of affordable options nearby.

Overall we want to build a sustainable local food economy that provides everyone in Islington with the food they need to thrive, and allows wide variety of good businesses to thrive.

What do we mean by food safety?

Food safety covers the handling, preparation, storage and service of food in ways that prevent food-borne illness or allergic reaction. All food providers, not just food vendors, must register with the borough they operate in and will then receive a food hygiene inspection from the environmental health team.

They are able to speak to the team for advice when they register and during the inspection. The team looks at food safety practices, structure and the management of the food provider as well as the types of food activity that take place. This will include staff training, provision of allergen information and any required paperwork.  The provider will then be given a food hygiene rating which is displayed on a public national database. A rating of 3 means they are broadly compliant with requirements and 5 is the highest rating.

7. Our themes and principles

Our strategy focuses on four themes, each with a principle directing all that we do.

8. Our priorities

  1. Best start in life: Ensure that good food gives babies, children and young people the best start in life
  2. Community-first solutions: Build and protect community-first solutions to food insecurity
  3. Cross-sector approaches: Develop partnerships and build relationships across communities and sectors to enable cross-system solutions
  4. Advocate for our people and businesses: Lobby for the local and wider policy and practice changes needed to build a thriving local food system
  5. Build a community movement: Create momentum towards a food movement, each with our own part to play
  6. Everyday sustainable food choices: Encourage sustainable food choices to be taken every day across the borough
  1. Connect to our food system: Increase all our understanding and sense of connection to the wider food system
  2. Reduce fossil fuels: Reduce, and eventually remove, fossil fuels from our Islington food system
  3. Utilise our land and property: Utilise more land and property in the borough for food growing, biodiversity, community food services and good food businesses
  4. Less food waste and packaging: Reduce food waste and packaging, building circular systems
  5. Good food sector work: Ensure food sector employees earn a living wage, with appropriate working conditions and opportunities to develop
  6. Thriving local businesses: Ensure good food businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive
  7. Better supply chains: Implement a dynamic food procurement system across the borough, to build a more local and sustainable food system
  8. Good food everywhere: Ensure all food bought in the borough is safe and sustainable, with healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate options widely available
  9. Make healthy the easy choice: Advocate for a local food system which makes healthy options the easy choice

9. Actions and commitments

We all have a stake in the food system – we’re all part of it every day. From decisions on what we eat and where we buy it from, to being involved with our communities and using our voice for change. All of us can make a significant impact by thinking about what opportunities we have available to us, and being creative in how we approach them. 

Our strategy asks everyone to take actions and commitments based on where you have an influence. So, we’ve set out a selection of actions and commitments for individuals and organisations – please have a read through all of the sections and look at the ones that apply to you.

We’ve also highlighted the actions that can be quick wins, particularly high impact and money saving, using the following icons:

Actions and commitments for all of us

We’re asking everyone who reads this strategy to take 15 minutes of their time to reflect on how you, personally, can help achieve what we want to see in Islington, across our four key themes and principles below. Even if you can pledge just one change, together we will make a huge difference.

  • Affordable healthy food for all. Everyone should be able to eat the food they need to thrive
  • Sustainable local food economy. Good businesses and entrepreneurs should be able to thrive in Islington
  • Climate and nature emergency. The way we live our lives should have a positive impact on nature and the environment
  • People-powered change. People and communities coming together is the only route to achieving real change.
Help achieve people-powered change:

  • Join, support and promote the Islington Food Partnership, and our Food Activist Network
  • Come along to Islington Food Partnership events, workshops and community meals, or take part in creative activities with us
  • Take a pledge that would have a positive impact on our food system. This could be something you personally decide, or you could join an existing campaign, for example the Love Food Hate Waste campaign
  • Donate or volunteer with community food services that provide support to those experiencing food insecurity
Use our voice:

  • Ask your local representatives to take action to build a better local food system, and share with them this strategy
  • Encourage the organisation you work for and any others you are involved in to take the actions and commitments below
  • Encourage your children’s nursery or school to work towards a Healthy Early Years or Healthy Schools  Award, to maintain a Food Hygiene rating of 3 or higher, and to comply with the Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines
Reduce our waste and energy use:

  • Follow the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle principles
  • Don’t buy products with unnecessary packaging, particularly unrecyclable and un-compostable materials, and use reusable shopping bags
  • Reduce food waste, for example by using community sharing schemes or services like Olio or Too Good To Go, or by freezing, preserving and utilising food waste wherever possible
  • Use food waste collection services wherever possible
  • Use food waste measurement tools to be aware of the waste we produce, and take action to reduce this
  • Ensure the correct materials are placed in recycling bins
  • Follow the Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste approach, rather than relying on Best Before dates, but do follow the Use By dates. Fruit and vegetables do not need a Use By date.
  • Drink tap water when out and about – download and use the Refill app to find places to refill
  • If and where you can, choose greener transport options, for example walking, cycling, public transport and electric vehicles
  • Switch to a green energy provider and take steps to reduce energy use

Have an impact with our daily decisions on what we eat and where we get it from:

  • If you can, buy from local, sustainable and ethical businesses. Support independent local shops and venues, and use street and farmers markets, and local fruit and vegetable box schemes
  • Make more plant-based food choices, with less animal protein and more plant protein, which has benefits for both health and the planet
  • Try to eat seasonally where possible, and choose foods that are healthy and not ultra-processed. Try new foods and recipes too
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet which is low in fat, salt and sugar
  • Look for businesses that are rated 3 or higher in the Food Hygiene rating scheme, and have accreditations such as Sugar Smart and the Healthier Catering Commitment. Ask the businesses you use if they pay staff the London Living Wage, and if the staff receive all the tips. Highlight unnecessary packaging and ask them to reduce their waste
  • Try food growing. Anyone can do this, even if you only have a windowsill.
  • Join or set up a local food cooperative, to prevent surplus food from going to waste, and get cheaper wholesale prices by buying as a group
  • If you are eligible for Healthy Start payments, follow the link to apply, or ask for help from your midwife, Health Visiting or your local community centre
  • Sign up to local community cooking courses to learn new skills and try new foods

What this could look like: A group of neighbours on a local estate

A group of neighbours, who have migrated to the UK from a similar region of the world, were all struggling to find affordable food products from their home region. They decided to band together to form a food cooperative, pooling their money to get deliveries of a variety of foods from wholesalers. They got the council to provide them keys to a communal space on their estate, so they could receive the large delivery and split it between their households. They were also able to get a surplus food supplier to deliver free surplus food on the same day, which they and other neighbours can take away. They got support from environmental health to register and ensure the food is safe for everyone.

They lobbied the Council to be able to use some green space on their estate for growing food, and contacted their MP about this. They also were able to have conversations about having a food waste bin installed on their estate and setting up a community fridge in the shared space, so that they could share food between their neighbours.

Two of the residents joined the Islington Food Partnership Food Activist Network, received community organiser training, and got involved in some local campaigns around access to food. They also made sure that information on community food services are pinned to estate noticeboards, for anyone that is struggling to feed their family.

Actions and commitments for all organisations

We’re asking every organisation that reads this strategy to host one staff meeting reflecting internally on how you can help achieve what we want to see in Islington, across our four key themes and principles below. Develop from this an action plan to take forward and measure the positive changes you make.

  • Affordable healthy food for all. Everyone should be able to eat the food they need to thrive
  • Sustainable local food economy. Good businesses and entrepreneurs should be able to thrive in Islington
  • Climate and nature emergency. The way we live our lives should have a positive impact on nature and the environment
  • People-powered change. People and communities coming together is the only route to achieving real change.
Reflect on and use your assets for positive change, for example:

  • If you have venue, meeting or kitchen space, connect with local community groups and charities who can benefit from it when it isn’t being used. Some charities may be able to run training and learning sessions for your staff
  • If you have green space, or even vertical wall space, partner with a local community organisation to grow food, or lead this as an organisation
  • If you have staff members who are particularly passionate about a particular issue (e.g. tackling the climate and nature emergency, or supporting those experiencing food insecurity) enable them to develop a working group and give them real power to make changes
  • If you have staff with a particular skillset, use some of their time to run community training and learning sessions
  • Find ways to share resources, for example cargo bikes or electric vehicles, across different organisations
  • Explore ways your business may be able to support those experiencing food insecurity, for example by donating surplus food to a nearby community food service
Work in partnership:

  • Join, support and promote the Islington Food Partnership
  • Connect with other organisations to share and develop good practice
  • Share relevant local campaigns with your staff and customers to raise awareness
Reduce your waste and energy use:

  • Conduct an environmental audit of your waste and energy use, and develop an action plan from this
  • Ensure staff are trained and supported to reduce waste and energy use, for example the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle principles, and usage of recycling and food waste bins
  • Make it company policy to avoid products with unnecessary packaging, particularly unrecyclable and un-compostable materials
  • Use bikes, electric vehicles or sustainable companies for transport and delivery where possible
  • Switch to a green energy provider
Make policy and practice changes:

  • Pay staff the real London Living Wage to protect and improve the health and household food security of employees. Offer inclusive working conditions, and opportunities to develop and progress to all staff
  • Recognise that we are in a climate and nature emergency, with this at the forefront of business operations. Build the climate and nature emergency into policies and day to day work, and share examples for others to adopt. Focus on the highest impact actions, for example reducing the fossil fuel used directly or indirectly by your organisation
  • Ask for a commitment to tackling the climate and nature emergency in job descriptions, partner contracts and funding provision
  • Provide training for staff around the climate and nature emergency, and where relevant, how to support those who are experiencing food insecurity
  • Allow staff time to volunteer with local charities and community groups
  • Sign up to be Breastfeeding Welcome and support breastfeeding employees and customers
If you procure and provide food:

  • Buy direct from local, sustainable and ethical businesses, and increase plant-based food choices, with less animal protein and more plant protein, which has benefits for both health and the planet
  • Procure from businesses that have Food Hygiene ratings or 3 or higher, and have accreditations such as Sugar Smart and the Healthy Catering Commitment. Ask the businesses you use if they pay staff the London Living Wage. Highlight unnecessary packaging and ask them to reduce their waste
  • Offer robust, sustainable procurement contracts to those you buy from
  • Understand the supply chain of where your food comes from, with a sustainable procurement policy where appropriate
  • If you provide food, either catering or retail, register with Islington, talk to your environmental health team for advice, provide some staff with food hygiene training and achieve 3 or higher on the Food Hygiene rating scheme

Actions and commitments for all organisations

We’re asking every organisation that reads this strategy to host one staff meeting reflecting internally on how you can help achieve what we want to see in Islington, across our four key themes and principles below. Develop from this an action plan to take forward and measure the positive changes you make.

  • Affordable healthy food for all. Everyone should be able to eat the food they need to thrive
  • Sustainable local food economy. Good businesses and entrepreneurs should be able to thrive in Islington
  • Climate and nature emergency. The way we live our lives should have a positive impact on nature and the environment
  • People-powered change. People and communities coming together is the only route to achieving real change.
Reflect on and use your assets for positive change, for example:

  • If you have venue, meeting or kitchen space, connect with local community groups and charities who can benefit from it when it isn’t being used. Some charities may be able to run training and learning sessions for your staff
  • If you have green space, or even vertical wall space, partner with a local community organisation to grow food, or lead this as an organisation
  • If you have staff members who are particularly passionate about a particular issue (e.g. tackling the climate and nature emergency, or supporting those experiencing food insecurity) enable them to develop a working group and give them real power to make changes
  • If you have staff with a particular skillset, use some of their time to run community training and learning sessions
  • Find ways to share resources, for example cargo bikes or electric vehicles, across different organisations
  • Explore ways your business may be able to support those experiencing food insecurity, for example by donating surplus food to a nearby community food service
Work in partnership:

  • Join, support and promote the Islington Food Partnership
  • Connect with other organisations to share and develop good practice
  • Share relevant local campaigns with your staff and customers to raise awareness
Reduce your waste and energy use:

  • Conduct an environmental audit of your waste and energy use, and develop an action plan from this
  • Ensure staff are trained and supported to reduce waste and energy use, for example the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle principles, and usage of recycling and food waste bins
  • Make it company policy to avoid products with unnecessary packaging, particularly unrecyclable and un-compostable materials
  • Use bikes, electric vehicles or sustainable companies for transport and delivery where possible
  • Switch to a green energy provider
Make policy and practice changes:

  • Pay staff the real London Living Wage to protect and improve the health and household food security of employees. Offer inclusive working conditions, and opportunities to develop and progress to all staff
  • Recognise that we are in a climate and nature emergency, with this at the forefront of business operations. Build the climate and nature emergency into policies and day to day work, and share examples for others to adopt. Focus on the highest impact actions, for example reducing the fossil fuel used directly or indirectly by your organisation
  • Ask for a commitment to tackling the climate and nature emergency in job descriptions, partner contracts and funding provision
  • Provide training for staff around the climate and nature emergency, and where relevant, how to support those who are experiencing food insecurity
  • Allow staff time to volunteer with local charities and community groups
  • Sign up to be Breastfeeding Welcome and support breastfeeding employees and customers
If you procure and provide food:

  • Buy direct from local, sustainable and ethical businesses, and increase plant-based food choices, with less animal protein and more plant protein, which has benefits for both health and the planet
  • Procure from businesses that have Food Hygiene ratings or 3 or higher, and have accreditations such as Sugar Smart and the Healthy Catering Commitment. Ask the businesses you use if they pay staff the London Living Wage. Highlight unnecessary packaging and ask them to reduce their waste
  • Offer robust, sustainable procurement contracts to those you buy from
  • Understand the supply chain of where your food comes from, with a sustainable procurement policy where appropriate
  • If you provide food, either catering or retail, register with Islington, talk to your environmental health team for advice, provide some staff with food hygiene training and achieve 3 or higher on the Food Hygiene rating scheme

Additional actions and commitments for businesses that sell food

  • Register with Islington as a food business, talk to your environmental health team for advice, provide all food handlers with level 2 training or equivalent and some managers with level 3. Develop and implement a documented food safety management system, including your safe method for dealing with allergens. Ensure your food is safe by working towards achieving a 5 Food Hygiene rating
  • Buy direct from local, sustainable and ethical businesses, and increase plant-based food choices, with less animal protein and more plant protein, which has benefits for both health and the planet
  • Procure from businesses that have a Food Hygiene rating of 3 or higher, and have accreditations such as Sugar Smart and the Healthier Catering Commitment. Ask the businesses you use if they pay staff the Living Wage. Highlight unnecessary packaging and ask them to reduce their waste
  • Offer robust, sustainable procurement contracts to those you buy from
  • Guarantee staff and contractors the real London Living Wage, with appropriate working conditions and opportunities to develop
  • Understand the supply chain of where your food comes from, with a sustainable procurement policy where appropriate
  • Sell healthy and affordable food, making the healthy choice the easy choice
  • Use bikes, electric vehicles or sustainable companies for transport and delivery where possible
  • Use food waste measurement tools, for example the WRAP tool, to be aware of waste and take action to reduce this
  • Donate or offer discounted surplus food to community food services, or surplus donation schemes such as Olio or Too Good To Go, ensuring this food is good quality
  • Offer appropriate portion sizes, or consider offering multiple portion sizes on menus
  • Provide healthy and affordable options for children on your menu
  • Ensure your food is safe by working towards achieving a 5 Food Hygiene rating
  • Join a food and sustainability scheme or accreditation, for example the Healthier Catering Commitment
  • Nudge customers into changing behaviour, for example applying a surcharge on non-reusable coffee cups, or offering ‘doggy bags’ for leftover food to be taken home
  • Avoid promotions and deals on foods and drinks which are high in fat, salt and/or sugar, and avoid promotions on formula milks (including follow on milks) or foods and drinks designed for babies under 6 months, adhering to the International Code of Breastmilk Marketing Substitutes
  • Encourage customers to use their Healthy Start card, and support those that may be experiencing food insecurity, for example by sharing our community food services leaflet

What this could look like: A local café and food shop

This local business held a staff meeting and talked about four key questions – how can we support access to affordable and health food for everyone in the borough? How can we support the local economy? How can we help tackle the climate and nature emergency? And how can we support our local community and bring about change?

From this discussion they came up with loads of ideas, and one particularly passionate staff member volunteered to take these away and present a potential plan of action.

They were able to introduce lots of easy changes that benefited their customers and the business. They have excluded single use plastics wherever possible, and have started selling re-usable coffee cups, with their branding on it. They have new plantable seed business cards that they give to customers to encourage them to grow. They’ve chosen to avoid offering promotional deals on unhealthy foods in the shop and have added two new plant-based dishes to the café menu.They source most of their food free from a surplus food provider, and supplement this by using an ethical wholesale supplier. They’ve also set up growing spaces on the roof and vertical spaces on their walls, and now have a gardening club that tends to the food. They are investigating becoming a Marine Stewardship Council sustainable fish business.

They put up an Islington Food Partnership leaflet in the window and have put out leaflets on community food services in the borough on the till, for anyone that might be struggling to feed their family. They also put up a sign encouraging people to use their Healthy Start cards, and a Breastfeeding Welcome sign.

They achieved a Food Hygiene rating of 3 at their last inspection, and have provided staff training and are working on structure and actions to achieve a 5 rating.

They used the WRAP tool to measure their waste, and introduced some cost savings through this. They are also trialling multiple portion sizes on the menu. They’ve reviewed their supply chain, and replaced one supplier with a B-Corp business that operates more locally and ethically.

They also contacted their local community centre to talk about ways they could work together and are exploring whether the charity can use their kitchen on Mondays when the café is closed. The community centre also comes to collect their surplus food each week, which supports their food cooperative.

With the changes they’ve implemented, they’ve decided to join the Sustainable Restaurant Association to get a Food Made Good standard.

 

Additional actions and commitments for policy makers and the public sector

Lead by example in taking healthy, ethical and sustainable approaches 

Advocate for our Partnership and citizens to influence wider policy and practice

  • Lobby for the policy changes and use of resources needed to achieve our goals at different levels, for example:
    • The implementation of the National Food Strategy recommendations
    • Further national support and policy changes to ensure local businesses can thrive
    • The implementation of the recommendations in the London Resilience Forum Supply Chain report
    • Protections to ensure living wages and appropriate benefits for residents
    • Diverting the edible food sent to anaerobic digestion into the food chain
    • Reversing the delays to implementing measures from the National Obesity Strategy

Maintain existing successful policies and practices across the borough, and implement further policy and practice changes

  • Embed food systems thinking into all strategies and policies
  • Consider food as a key determinant of health and other outcomes when creating strategies
  • Ensure managing food security is built into all planning, including emergency planning
  • Support mechanisms for communities and grassroots groups to influence policy and practice, and credit them for this
  • Ensure all new contracts and funding provision include clauses about climate and sustainability
  • Co-develop and implement a Food Standards policy for the borough with the Islington Food Partnership
  • Encourage cross-departmental, cross-service and cross-sector approaches by creating links and delivering in partnership
  • Maintain an advertising and sponsorship policy which restricts the promotion of high fat, salt and/or sugar food and drink, and formula milks, including foods and drinks designed for babies under 6 months

Net Carbon Zero

  • Implement a new scheme to allow customers to return unwanted packaging to businesses when purchasing
  • Use bylaws to reduce the reliance on soft plastics
  • Build more water fountains and low plastic zones across the borough
  • Roll out more food waste bins to homes across the borough, as only half of our buildings currently have purpose-built food waste bins
  • Work with the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), Resource London, waste authorities and others to support programmes including Love Food Hate Waste
  • Commit and achieve net carbon zero by 2030, and support the successful implementation of circular economy systems within Islington
  • Take action to ensure the correct materials are placed in recycling bins
  • Make public the amount of food and other waste being created across the public sector and within the community, and what happens to it
  • Sign up to the London carbon reduction commitment for food procured by local government

Planning

  • Support community food growing and composting by ensuring planning for new developments must include provision for this
  • Encourage street tree planting and more public edible trees, and ensure these assets are cared for
  • Create a pathway for residents to request the creation of a food growing area on their street or estate
  • Implement and maintain Local Plan policies which safeguard access to food across the borough and resist the development of fast-food takeaways near locations like school
  • Provide meanwhile leases in empty spaces for pop-up community food services or local businesses and entrepreneurs
  • Land map for suitable places to grow food or set aside plots for green food production
  • Implement innovative models to enable community-led food growing, composting and vending, for example Urban Cultivate

Public sector buildings

  • Provide access to public sector owned kitchen spaces, for example to local entrepreneurs or for families without kitchens to cook and eat together, in particular those in temporary accommodation
  • Provide meanwhile leases in empty spaces for pop up community food services or local businesses and entrepreneurs
  • Support all public sector buildings to become Breastfeeding Welcome

Children, young people and families

  • Commission a high quality, healthy, safe and sustainable contract for the provision of school food, which encourages children and young people to take up school meals or deliver this in-house
  • Continue to provide universal free school meals for all maintained nursery and primary school children and campaign for government funding to extend these to pupils of all ages
  • Support schools and settings to promote healthy food through the Healthy Schools or Healthy Early Years Programme
  • Explore the restriction of ice cream vans and the sale of unhealthy food outside schools
  • Commit to the ongoing support of the Baby Friendly Initiative, ensure the International Code of Breastmilk Marketing Substitutes is implemented across the borough
  • Enhance the support available for secondary aged young people to access healthy and affordable food
  • Promote the Healthy Start scheme, and support and promote Islington’s vitamin scheme which provides Healthy Start vitamins free to all families with children under 4, regardless of income status
  • Ensure clear pathways are in place for access to appropriate nutrition for babies and toddlers affected by food insecurity
  • Continue to commission distinct infant feeding support services within Bright Start
  • Provide a holiday food programme which supports all vulnerable children and young people and those living in areas of higher deprivation, during all school holidays
  • Provide opportunities for children and families to cook together through the Family Kitchen programme
  • Commission weight management support services for children, young people and adults living with excess weight

Public-sector organisations which provide food

  • Increase seasonal and plant-based food choices within public sector settings, with less animal protein and more plant protein, and promote fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Take steps to improve the sustainability of public sector food, by developing our understanding of local supply chains, and introducing sustainable procurement policies
  • Support night workers by building 24 hour access to appropriate food
  • Explore how healthy options can be subsidised to make them more affordable

 

Support and promote local businesses and entrepreneurs

  • Ensure the right resources, policy and support are in place so that local businesses and entrepreneurs can make sustainable changes, including considering offering business rates reductions for sustainable practices
  • Offer advertising and promotion opportunities
  •  Support and promote the use of street markets
  • Offer recycling facilities at markets and explore free food waste collection for businesses
  • Support local businesses to join a food and sustainability scheme or accreditation, for example the Healthier Catering Commitment
  • Continue a full food inspection programme and workshops to help business understand and comply with legislation and work towards attaining a 5 food hygiene rating
  • Promote appropriate employment standards by paying and promoting London Living Wage and encouraging engagement with Trades Unions and the reduction of zero hours contracts

Support community-led solutions to food insecurity

  • Raise awareness of what services and support are available for people experiencing food insecurity locally, for example by sharing the Islington Food Partnership leaflet of community services
  • Encourage and signpost residents to establish food cooperatives to access more affordable food in a sustainable way
  • Promote a cash-first approach, recognising that the best support mechanism for those experiencing food insecurity is cash, not food. This can be achieved through local welfare assistance schemes, and prevents institutionalising food aid
  • Commit to ensuring appropriate community food services across the borough for those experiencing food insecurity, resourcing services that work to a sustainable and effective model, i.e. that:
    • Provide people access to the food they need to thrive, i.e. safe, sustainable, healthy food that meets dietary, cultural and lifestyle needs
    • Provide an accessible, inclusive and dignified service
    • Ensure access to wrap around support for underlying and additional circumstances related to their food insecurity
    • Support people to connect to and become part of community networks, solutions and initiatives, which we believe are the only true long-term route to food security
  •  Ensure that community food services are resourced to support all people, especially those at higher risk of experiencing food insecurity, for example people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), people experiencing homelessness and people with disabilities, among others
  • Support community food services with access to larger or unrestricted grants, so that they can decide how to spend it and fund core projects on a longer-term basis
  • Ensure that all community organisations have sufficient fridge and freezer capacity to maximise the safe storage of surplus food
  • Tackle the root causes of food insecurity by supporting residents to maximise their income, access financial entitlements, and provide other public sector support schemes
  • Offer opportunities for community-led projects and campaigns, for example small grants programmes and training opportunities
  • Offer free training, on topics such as food safety, nutrition and public health initiatives, for charities, community groups, volunteers and entrepreneurs
  • Support and fund the development of a new high street community café and kitchen, working with Islington Food Partnership

Additional actions and commitments for the education sector

We’re asking the education sector to adopt a whole-school or whole-setting approach to healthy eating, for example through the  Healthy Early Years or Healthy Schools Programme, looking at the four framework areas:

Food quality

  • Use seasonal, local, ethical and sustainable ingredients that are at least 75% freshly prepared, with less animal-protein and more plant-protein, and other sustainable food options. One meat free child meal saves 0.25kg of C02
  • Promote sustainable food choices to increase fruit and vegetable uptake amongst students and staff

Food leadership and food culture

  • Ensure the Senior Leadership Team champions good food
  • Develop a school food policy, involving staff and students in the process, for example through a School Nutrition Action Group
  • Encourage pupils eligible for Free School Meals to take up the offer
  • Become a water-only school or setting
  • Offer breakfast club provision to ensure all pupils start the day with nutritious food
  • Recommend OFSTED adopt food as a key indicator of early years settings’ and schools’ performance
  • Create a positive lunchtime eating environment for students and staff

Food education

  • Provide opportunities for learning about food growing, cooking, safety and nutrition as part of the curriculum and extra-curricular activities. Use these to increase our connection to our food system and how it gets to our plates. Increase understanding of seasonality and sustainability, cooking in an affordable and energy efficient way with minimal waste, and give students the opportunity to visit farms and growers
  • Encourage creative thinking about changing our local food system by using our Dragon’s Den and other activities
  • Create food growing spaces on site, involving staff and students in them, and working with catering staff to use this food in the meals you offer
  • Provide opportunities for learning on infant feeding as part of the curriculum, and/or direct students to relevant resources
  • For older students, work with the Islington Food Partnership to design training courses for business students on setting up and running cooperative food businesses or social enterprises

Community and partnerships

  • Act as a hub for the local community, for example partnering with local charities, community groups, farms and growers to run workshops and share space; hosting community learning sessions and meals; and setting up a community fridge or food cooperative
  • Be aware and able to advise on what community food services and support are available for people experiencing food insecurity locally

What this could look like: A local school

This school decided to adopt a whole-school approach to healthy eating and food culture, using the Healthy Schools London Action Plan as a framework.

They held staff, parent and pupil discussions about how they would like this to work, coming out with a number of changes to implement, that they wrote into a new School Food Policy. They identified a staff lead to take this forward.

They made a commitment to ensure at least 75% of meals are freshly prepared, and introduced a new planet friendly menu. They reviewed the morning break offer to ensure that they were able to offer choices that are both popular and healthy. They also decided to become a water-only school, providing reusable water bottles that are now part of the required equipment for pupils. They’ve set up a small herb patch on site, and the younger pupils are learning about growing through tending to this, and using the herbs in an after-school cooking club.

They reached out to their local community centre, which offers a food service, and ensure that families who are struggling are referred on, to receive food and additional support. The partnership grew from there, and the local community food service now hosts pupil visits to their growing spaces, and holds a community meal at the school on Saturdays in school holidays.

They’ve also used the Islington Food Partnership Dragon’s Den activity to get pupils thinking about potential projects and innovations that they could design for the local area, and two groups of pupils have applied for a Make It Happen grant to take their ideas forward.

With all the changes they have introduced, they received a Healthy Schools London Silver award.

Additional actions and commitments for service providers

When providing food

  • Ensure everyone has access to the food they need to thrive, i.e. safe, sustainable, healthy food that meets dietary, cultural and lifestyle needs
  • Increase seasonal and plant-based food choices, with less animal protein and more plant protein, and promote fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Join a food and sustainability scheme or accreditation, for example the Healthier Catering Commitment
  • Use food waste measurement tools, for example the WRAP tool, to be aware of waste and take action to reduce this
  • Donate or offer discounted surplus food to community food services
  • Become a water-only setting, and offer refill facilities for reusable water bottles
  • If you are providing food to those experiencing food insecurity:
    • Provide people access to the food they need to thrive, i.e. safe, sustainable, healthy food that meets dietary, cultural and lifestyle needs
    • Provide an accessible, inclusive and dignified service
    • Ensure access to wrap around support for underlying and additional circumstances related to their food insecurity
    • Support people to connect to and become part of community networks, solutions and initiatives, which we believe are the only true long-term route to food security

When providing services

  • Consider food insecurity as a key determinant of health when creating strategies
  • Ensure that your services are built to recognise and support those experiencing food insecurity
  • Raise awareness of what services and support are available for people experiencing food insecurity locally, for example by making the Islington Food Partnership leaflet of community services available in waiting areas
  • Commit to Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation across all relevant services used by Islington residents
  • Provide services to support families with introducing and progressing with solid foods
  • Ensure clear pathways for signposting and referring patients in to appropriate food insecurity and health services, for example weight management services

When recruiting and managing staff

  • Explicitly recognise the value of lived and local experience in recruitment processes, and commit to implementing organisational and employment practices that promote the inclusion and leadership of people with lived experience

 

Additional actions and commitments for charities and community groups

Support those experiencing food insecurity

  • If you are providing food to those experiencing food insecurity:
    • Provide people access to the food they need to thrive, i.e. safe, sustainable, healthy food that meets dietary, cultural and lifestyle needs
    • Provide an accessible, inclusive and dignified service
    • Ensure access to wrap around support for underlying and additional circumstances related to their food insecurity
    • Support people to connect to and become part of community networks, solutions and initiatives, which we believe are the only true long-term route to food security
  • Explore ways to support people to have the equipment, resources, skills and knowledge they need to be able to prepare and eat the food they need to thrive. For example, this could include promoting food preserving (freezing, jam making, chutneys or hydrating), or providing training on energy efficient and waste reducing food preparation.
  • Raise awareness of what services and support are available for people experiencing food insecurity locally, for example by making the Islington Food Partnership leaflet of community services available in waiting areas and over email
  • Encourage and signpost residents to establish food cooperatives to  access more affordable food in a sustainable way
  • Use your space to host community fridges or food cooperatives
  • Hold regular community shared meals, potentially working in partnership with other organisations or community groups

When designing and delivering services

  • Support more community ownership of projects and funding use
  • Encourage creative thinking about changing our local food system by using our Dragon’s Den and other activities

Work in partnership

  • Work closely with other organisations and communities around awareness raising and change making campaigns
  • Partner with local schools to run workshops for students, parents and staff

When recruiting and managing staff

  • Explicitly recognise the value of lived and local experience in recruitment processes, and commit to implementing organisational and employment practices that promote the inclusion and leadership of people with lived experience

Offer training and support for volunteers (as well as out of pocket expenses) with opportunities for development and movement into paid work where appropriate

What this could look like: A local charity

This local charity has a hall, fair sized kitchen, and a roof garden. They’ve been hosting a weekly food bank for many years, and have seen numbers steadily increasing.

They’ve decided to the change the model of their food bank, introducing a new food cooperative model, where residents are able to get more involved in what they buy and where they buy it. They are working with The Felix Project and local supermarkets to access free surplus food, liaising with the supermarket to ensure the food offered is both healthy, and appropriate for their diverse communities of residents.

They’ve decided to introduce a weekly community meal before the food cooperative meets, and have an advice service available for anyone that needs support. They spoke to another local charity that has a cargo bike, and found a volunteer to take packaged hot meals to community members who aren’t mobile enough to come to the meal. They have spoken to their environmental health team for advice on the changes to their food service and made an updated food registration. They have introduced some new safe methods due to introducing catering and provided staff and volunteers with extra training. They also now display a Breastfeeding Welcome sign in all public areas.

They regularly ask food cooperative members what else they would like to see the charity do, and from this they’ve set up a monthly preserving session, making jams and chutneys with surplus food. The members also had ideas for additional projects they wanted to see locally, and so the charity have applied to a grant funder for this community-led idea to happen.

Out of these discussions, they’ve found a handful of local community members who are interested in spending more time bringing about change for their local area, and are providing them community organiser training. 

Internally they also held a staff meeting and talked about four key questions – how can we support access to affordable and health food for everyone in the borough? How can we support the local economy? How can we help tackle the climate and nature emergency? And how can we support our local community and bring about change?

From this discussion they came up with loads of ideas and formed a working group to take these away and present a potential plan of action. One thing staff were particularly keen on was reviewing their recruitment practices, and explicitly recognise the value of lived and local experience in recruitment processes. They also came up with a timetable of staff-led trainings for volunteers, to support them into employment.

They have introduced an organisational sustainability policy and switched to a green energy provider (that wasn’t any more expensive). They’ve built links with two local cafes and restaurants, and now order all their lunches and snacks for meetings and activities through them.

Additional actions and commitments the Islington Food Partnership team will take

The Islington Food Partnership is hosted by Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, and led by our Strategic Board and Coordinating Group, each with members from across different sectors. Below are the actions and commitments that we will take centrally over the next 5 years, prioritising the areas will feel we can have the greatest impact in.

We will lead by example in taking healthy, ethical and sustainable approaches, and constantly reflecting on our work to ensure it is effective and inclusive

  •  Develop a statement of commitment for the Islington Food Partnership and its members to embed, equity, diversity and inclusion principles

We will advocate for our Partnership and citizens to influence policy and practice

  • Promote the above actions and commitments and encourage as many people as possible to commit to them
  • Lobby for the policy changes and use of resources needed to achieve our goals at different levels, including working with the Greater London Authority (GLA), and national government. For example, some of the initial areas we will lobby on include:
    • The implementation of the National Food Strategy recommendations
    • Further support and changes to ensure local businesses can thrive
    • The implementation of the recommendations in the London Resilience Forum Supply Chain report
    • Protections to ensure living wages and appropriate benefits for residents
    • Diverting the edible food sent to anaerobic digestion into the food chain
    • Reversing the delays to implementing measures from the National Obesity Strategy

We will open up funding, resources and opportunities for our Partnership and citizens

  • Apply for grant funding for the borough, and build partnerships with potential corporate donors
  • Explore joint purchasing across the Partnership, to enable the purchase of greener items in bulk
  • Find ways for community groups and local businesses and entrepreneurs to access space, kitchens and trainings, including Council owned spaces
  • Develop a sustainability framework and directory of resources to support businesses
  • Support Partnership members to develop new and sustainable community food projects
  • Support Partnership members to develop organisational policies and practices that support the success of this strategy, including promoting inclusion and leadership from people with lived experience of food injustice
  • Develop better representation of Black people and other minority groups in food spaces across Islington

We will gather and share information, data and best practice

  • Collect, analyse and share regular data across our four themes (See Data and Monitoring)
  • Be led by local citizens and community groups through actively seeking feedback, and offering regular opportunities to be actively involved in shaping our direction as a Partnership

We will deliver strategic projects to achieve our goals

  • Ensure the continued commitment to the successful work outlined in our Sustainable Food Places Bronze Award, and aim for the Silver Sustainable Food Places Award
  • Deliver a programme of activities across the borough, in particular supporting outreach to less represented groups
  • Co-develop and implement an Islington Food Standards policy
  • Create a Climate Charter for all those involved in the Partnership
  • Develop a new high street community café and kitchen, in partnership with Islington Council
  • Work with Re:London to create a food hub that would enable community groups to buy food direct from farms and to accept bulk deliveries of surplus foods
  • Work with education settings to deliver creative and practical workshops on topics such as food growing, envisioning a different food system, food justice, imagining a new community project or initiative, or visits to local community projects
  • Explore creating a scheme where private gardens can be utilised for community food growing initiatives
  • Employ community chefs who can work across the borough within different community kitchens and food services
  • Expand the provision of home delivered meals, in particular for older and socially isolated people
  • Work with businesses to explore the possibility of becoming cooperatives

We will share key messages, promote members and develop engagement

  • Communicate and promote the services and support available for residents experiencing food insecurity
  • Develop and deliver a communications and engagement plan around our four themes, for example through newsletters, press, events and discussions
  • Champion, celebrate and promote good practice organisations
  • Build a Made in Islington brand to promote our local businesses and entrepreneurs

We will bring people together to create partnerships

  • Lead delivery groups around our four themes, and provide multiple ways for people and organisations to get involved
  • Bring together people and organisations in events and activities to better partnership work, achieve our goals and support community-led solutions
  • Increase the membership of the Partnership, making connections across communities and organisations, including Tenants and Residents Associations (TRAs), credit unions, trade unions and existing grassroots networks
  • Collaborate on a borough or London wide dynamic purchasing scheme, to allow local businesses and services to easily purchase from local and sustainable producers and manufacturers
  • Create connections to encourage more sharing of resources, for example spaces, kitchens, transport vehicles or volunteers
  • Develop partnerships to promote a circular economy, and the better use of food waste
  • Use mapping tools to create a smooth route of donation between businesses and community food services
  • Create a forum and mentoring scheme for businesses to share ideas, expertise and support to make greener choices
  • Build links between education settings, allotments and growers, and community food services
  • Share insights and good practice with other areas across London and the UK

9. Our members

The Islington Food Partnership is led collaboratively by 
With huge thanks to our Islington Food Partnership members who collaboratively developed this strategy, and lead ongoing work and initiatives across the borough. Our member organisations include

10. Data and monitoring

We will collect the following data and monitoring our progress through the following indicators.

Healthy affordable food for all

Existing data we will collate and monitor:

  • Updated Food Poverty Needs Assessment for Camden and Islington (2022)
  • Residents in receipt of disability benefits, Universal Credit, and other forms of council support schemes
  • School meal uptake
  • Healthy Start uptake
  • Health Related Behaviours Questionnaire results
  • Breastfeeding rates
  • Childhood obesity rates
  • Uptake of child and adult weight management services

New data we will set up approaches to collecting:

  • Resident food security levels
  • Activity within community food projects, including number and types of projects, number of users, and surplus food redistributed
  • Number of growing spaces and gardens in the borough
  • Prevalence and experiences of malnutrition amongst older adults in Islington, producing a series of evidence-based recommendations

 Sustainable food economy

Existing data we will collate and monitor:

  • Number of food businesses in Islington
  • Number of businesses in Islington Food Partnership
  • Food safety compliance rate
  • Number of businesses with Healthy Catering Commitment

New data we will set up approaches to collecting:

  • Understanding and mapping the supply chain
  • Number of businesses in accredited schemes and where they are
  • Identifying which food businesses have been supported by Islington programmes such as 50 Shades Greener, Re:London and Islington circular economy grants
  • Collect existing data on food sector employees earning real living wage and share findings
  • Number of employees in the food and hospitality sector

 Climate and nature emergency

Existing data we will collate and monitor:

  • Islington progress to Carbon Net Zero by 2030

New data we will set up approaches to collecting:

  • Food waste monitoring
  • Food mile measurement

 People-powered change

Existing data we will collate and monitor:

  • Membership of Islington Food Partnership and community activist network

New data we will set up approaches to collecting:

  • Survey on people’s understanding and sense of connection to the food system
  • Number of sustained and new community-led food projects

 

If you are an Islington resident looking to find community food services or support

Please ring the Manor Gardens Welfare Trust Assistance line on:

07538 562128

or email us

Lines are open Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Anything else? Get in touch!

In case you have any questions or want to join the partnership please don't hesitate to get in touch with us

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