Newcastle Good Food Plan a recipe for a healthier city

Cllr Jane Streather, Cabinet member for Public Health and Housin visiting the Little Diggers at Scotswood Community Garden
Cllr Jane Streather, Cabinet member for Public Health and Housin visiting the Little Diggers at Scotswood Community Garden

A Newcastle-wide food initiative has been launched that will put the people of the city on the path to a healthier future.

The Newcastle Good Food Plan is a major step forward in building a stronger, more sustainable and diverse nutritional culture for the city’s 300,000 residents.

The plan sets out the framework for developing a robust and healthier local food economy as well as improving access to more environmentally friendly and wholesome ingredients.

This will be achieved through:

  • Tackling diet-related ill health and improving access to good food
  • Reducing food poverty
  • Building community food knowledge, skills, resources and projects
  • Strengthening the local sustainable food economy
  • Transforming catering and food procurement
  • Reducing waste and the ecological footprint of the food system

The brainchild of the Food Newcastle Partnership (FNP), the strategy is being seen as a key breakthrough in the citywide fight against rising obesity, health inequalities, and food and economic poverty.

The Good Food blueprint has been developed in collaboration with Newcastle City Council and around 150 other key stakeholders, including the Greggs Foundation, Nestlé, Children North East, Food Nation, and the NHS Trust, with the aim of equipping communities with the tools and confidence to take control of their own health and happiness.

People are being asked to cook more meals for themselves, cut-back on waste, look at cultivating their own fresh produce, and support independent food retailers, farmers, and growers.

Businesses and schools based in Newcastle are also being encouraged to not only serve healthier food, but to buy more locally produced ingredients, as the city works towards being carbon neutral by 2050.

The Newcastle Good Food Plan’s development has been inspired by the success of similar programmes that have been launched in other cities across the globe, including Bristol, Brighton and Toronto.

At its heart, the plan is steered by the belief that nutritious and healthier food is a powerful driver in improving people’s lives as well as the local economy.

Nicola Cowell, Community Food Engagement Co-ordinator at Byker-based social enterprise Food Nation, said: “We already know that people who eat well, live well. At the core of the Newcastle Good Food Plan is the desire to create a healthier and more sustainable place to live, work and play for everyone.

“Much work is already being done to achieve this, with many public bodies committed to making their food procurement more sustainable, and community-based groups actively involved in working with residents on a range of projects, from teaching cooking skills to making good food easier to access.

“However, these groups often tend to work independently of each other. What the Good Food Plan does is bring everything together so collectively we can make a bigger impact on people’s diet, health and the environment.

“These are arguably the biggest social challenges facing us not just in Newcastle, but globally. They are challenges that must be effectively tackled if we are to build a better future for all.”

The Newcastle Good Food Plan aims to deliver a number of new community programmes and activities going forward, among them local food enterprises which will train and employ residents to run their own projects tackling diet and public health inequalities.

These will be monitored and evaluated to ensure the city’s communities are receiving help where it is most needed.

Councillor Jane Streather, Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Housing, said: “This plan will allow Newcastle to realise its ambition to become a healthier, sustainable city, while also clarifying our policy going forward on everything from public heath to the distribution and access of food, as well as on the environment.

“The city council is committed to working with community groups, charities, social enterprises and businesses to ensure everyone has access to good food and that a more sustainable food system is in place.

“It is obvious that the food model that has been followed worldwide for so long is neither sustainable nor healthy. We want to ensure the best possible future for the people of Newcastle.

“Good food is vital to the quality of people’s lives as well as creating a more vibrant, diverse, healthier, sustainable and ultimately prosperous city. Long-term that is surely what everyone wants? The Newcastle Good Food Plan is an important step forward not just for us, but the wider North East.”

The Newcastle Waste Commission, established in 2017, recently outlined its plans on how Newcastle can become a world leader in waste reduction. Their publication, No Time to Waste, is packed with ideas and actions to help drastically cut the amount of waste the city produces – including food waste.

Included in this report is the ambitious target to be a zero-food waste city. The Newcastle Good Food Plan will be a key driver to achieving this.

As part of this Peter Maddox, Director of Government Programmes for the charity, Waste & Resource Acton Programme (WRAP), and Andrew Griffiths, head of Environmental Sustainability at Nestle UK and Ireland, have been exploring how the waste agenda can be taken further to build on Newcastle’s sustainable food city status.

Andy Griffiths said: “Redefining our relationship with food is crucial and this integrated programme brings together a number of different elements to help deliver better health outcomes, address food inequality and reduce the environmental impact of food waste. It is great to see such a range of stakeholders coming together to develop and deliver this plan across the city.”

You can view the Newcastle Good Food plan here