By Chloe Smee - Senior Programme Manager
On 16th September 2021, Food for Life was delighted to welcome our public health commissioners to a Pathfinders event focussed on the National Food Strategy.
Food for Life has been operating a commissionable service to public health teams since 2011- partnering with Public Health Teams a decade ahead of the Government-commissioned National Food Strategy.
The National Food Strategy recommends ‘Government should require all schools to work with accreditation schemes such as Food for Life to improve school food and food education,’ so there is a very good reason why we call our community of public health commissioners Pathfinders!
As such, it felt only right to gather our pioneering pathfinders together to explore the recommendations of the National Food Strategy and seek their guidance on where Food for Life could best use our campaigning muscle.
Jeanette Orrey set an inspiring tone as she opened the event saying, “They haven’t forgotten the children in this strategy, who now more than ever need that healthy and nutritious meal. And hopefully the National Food Strategy will deliver the framework that is needed to move the public sector forward. But we can’t do this alone. No one can. I believe this is where public health has a huge part.”
Representatives across the country from Cumbria to Croydon joined a lively discussion about the National Food Strategy and Food for Life, including the key recommendations that relate to our areas of expertise:
- Recommendation 2: Introduce mandatory reporting for large food companies
- Recommendation 3: Launch a new “Eat and Learn” initiative for schools
- Recommendation 4: Extend eligibility for free school meals
- Recommendation 7: Trial a “Community Eatwell” programme, supporting those on low incomes to improve their diets
- Recommendation 13: Strengthen Government procurement - ensure taxpayer £’s spent on healthy & sustainable food
- Recommendation 14: Set clear targets and bring in legislation for long-term change
There was unanimous support around the table for the ambitious recommendations set in the Strategy. Public Health commissioners saw a strong fit between these recommendations and the priorities of their public health teams and local food partnerships. There was a call for better integration of land-use planning, farming policy and public health to ensure the dots are connected in local and national food systems.
We’ll leave the final words to our Pathfinders, who captured their response to Government in one of our exercises:
"The combination of commitments – to tackling food poverty and localising public procurement and setting up food partnerships can ensure real system change. It needs local and national leadership working in concert”
“Please mandate reporting on what children are eating (nutritional audit) in all schools – including academies!”
“No dither, no delay, let’s get this done!”
Food for Life sends a warm thanks to all of our public health commissioners for participating so fully in this lively conversation.
If you’re interested in a conversation about bringing the benefits of a Food for Life commissioned programme to your locality, contact Bryn Hamer