Key points from Fife Food Summit – 22nd June 2021
The Fife Food Summit, held by Climate Action Fife, saw over 80 participants gathered online in June for an event focussing on reducing food waste and keeping good food in circulation, using and producing local and seasonal food more, and working better together to bring about good food for Fife and our planet. As food is everyone’s business in Fife, all sectors were represented.
There were virtual ‘booths’ that guests could explore with videos and interesting information from organisations such as Greener Kirkcaldy, PLANT in Tayport, and EATS Rosyth from the Fife Community Climate Action Network, as well as Climate Action Fife, Soil Association Scotland, and NHS Fife.
Pete Ritchie of Nourish Scotland and the Food Summit Chair, in his opening remarks, emphasised how food is a really important part of the whole climate change picture. Establishing a more sustainable food system is one of the biggest tasks for our generation. It is also timely, with the UN Food Systems conference in September, COP26 in November, the Scottish Government commitment to being a ‘Good Food Nation’ by 2025 and their consultation on a Local Food Plan. Food has never been higher on the agenda with more local authorities becoming Sustainable Food Places, including Fife. Fife already has a diverse range of food activity and is well placed to work on a new vision for food in Fife.
We had some great keynotes from speakers who have been involved in projects that have made sustainable food a priority in their communities.
Gent en Garde – Hannelore Herreman
The city of Ghent in Belgium has been committed to a Climate Plan since 2009. A Food Strategy is integral to that, with a Food Council established in 2013, and committed to creating a more sustainable food system: promoting short supply chains, promoting plant-based food, and avoiding food waste.
Edible Ediburgh – Vivienne Swann
Edible Edinburgh has been a Sustainable Food Place since 2013 (Bronze level accreditation). This was achieved through partnership working recognising that health, the economy and sustainability are a key focus. Edible Edinburgh urged Fife to create effective partnerships and networks with diverse members, to keep the conversation going after today, to be ambitious, and to celebrate success.
Food4Fife – Ross Spalding, Fife Council
Ross gave an update on the development of a food strategy partnership and vision for food in Fife – creating a sustainable food culture, for a healthy Fife. The Food4Fife partnership will address healthy food for all in Fife as well other significant principles such as procurement, sustainability, the food economy, and public awareness.
Those attending the Fife Food Summit then got a chance to be more interactive, getting involved in conversations throughout the workshops. There were 6 workshops all with different themes:
Workshop 1: Food in our Communities
Fife Councils Community Food Team support a bottom up approach in tackling community led participation in tackling food issues at community level. The team’s focus has been on affordability, skills, knowledge and culture. We heard from two examples:
Dunshalt is the first village in Fife to take ownership of their village store and run it as a social enterprise. The shop opened on 9th March 2020. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the shop adapted into a delivery service with a key focus on using local suppliers and producers.
Benarty Food Angels are a community-led response to COVID-19. Working with local suppliers and producers they run ‘Meal Bag Mondays’, providing 120-130 bags of fresh ingredients, recipes and an online cooking session on a weekly basis.
- Community ownership can help solve community need and problems in a practical way.
- There is a tension between providing food (meals) and enabling people access food or their own food (ingredients and skills to make meals and grow food).
- There is some movement to increase access to land to grow food but it needs to happen faster.
- Short supply chains grew during COVID -19. It’s important to ensure everyone can benefit from this including more disadvantaged communities.
- Building partnerships with local suppliers has shared benefits – getting local food to all.
- All access to food approaches need to be dignified. Support contributions towards it is a dignity principle.
Workshop: 2 Local food in public places
Most people will access public food at some point – for example, at school or in hospital. Food for Life believe that public food is vital in transforming our food system and should lead by example by serving ‘good food’: good for our health – nutritious, more plant-based, good for the environment – local, seasonal, and sustainable, good for our economy – local and short supply chains. Community Wealth Building is a key pillar at national level and an ambition of a Good Food Nation ambition.
- All local authorities need to prioritise good food despite pressures on budgets post COVID.
- Who can encourage and influence progress towards Food for Life accreditation in Fife?
- Food for Life Supply Chain Officers can support local authorities as well as the community sector to make changes and share examples of best practice.
- There is challenge in procuring local food that is financially acceptable but there are opportunities for efficiency – more plant-based foods, adding quality protein but in smaller portions.
- Local sourcing will help to improve the local economy post-COVID and move towards encouraging smaller suppliers into supply chains. There is a consumer cost to cheap food: environmental impact, fair wages, processing etc. Shift thinking on cost and value.
- Universal free school meals can change food culture with access to good food and less ultra-processed foods
- Get the right people around the table who are to make small changes, and commit to do things together
Workshop 3: Keeping good food in circulation (reducing food waste)
EATS Rosyth (Edible and Tasty Spaces) grow and share food, reduce food waste, help the environment, and improve food education. They are the third Real Junk Food project in Scotland – a ‘pay as you feel’ concept diverting surplus and edible food waste from landfill and making it accessible to the community. 2018 statistics: 9.5 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK with 4.5 million tonnes from households. 79% of that could have been eaten.
- Third sector organisations are addressing food waste through redistribution projects but recognise it is a systemic problem.
- Redistribution is not an answer to food insecurity – we need to consider more dignified approaches and the right to food through other means of access too.
- Dealing with surplus food is a huge challenge due to over production, especially bread. We also need to tackle meat and dairy waste as this has a bigger impact on carbon.
- What would happen if charities stopped collecting food waste? Where would the wasted food go?
- Households and business create food waste but charities have the main burden of dealing with it. It’s a challenge to engage with them about using food before it gets to landfill.
- Most businesses have surplus vegetables: ‘veggie days’ in local cafes and centres is feasible.
- Would more formal third sector networks be helpful to address and collaborate on food redistribution?
- Would monitored targets for businesses to reduce food waste be useful?
Workshop 4: The Right to Food
Nourish Scotland and The Poverty Truth Commission have been involved in the Dignity in Practice Project since 2016. The next stage is to develop an understanding of the Right to Food, what it means in practice, and develop food strategies that to tackle dignity as well as the right to food. This involves not viewing food as a commodity but a right and ensuring that everyone can obtain adequate food (from a reliable source by growing or producing it, and that workers who produce are safe), that is culturally relevant for all, and is accessible (physical access – kitchens, resources, tools, and good food in public places).
- COVID-19 highlighted that charity models are problematic: having to travel to collect surplus food as well as people travelling to get food to eat, being able to buy food, and volunteers playing the role of key workers. More sustainable approaches.
- Can we redesign a food system where the the production, processing, distribution, the sale and consumption of food works in synergy as a system that ensures the right to food?
Workshop 5: A Place to eat well – a whole systems approach to obesity prevention
Obesity is a public health priority. We all want to eat well, have a healthy weight and be physically active. Obesity can have an impact on that as well as mental health and wellbeing.
Taking a whole systems approach is complex, from understanding the issues and where they are, planning actions and learning and reviewing as we go along, and working in sustainable and inclusive ways to gain opinions from those that could be impacted. This approach in Fife will focus on children and young people in the Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath area.
- Balanced messaging and communication.
- Multiple approaches are the right approach with communities doing work already linked in.
- While obesity is most prevalent in low-income communities, communities with adequate income also experience obesity.
- The hospitality industry needs to be involved and work with food workers of the future.
- Promote healthier options as intensely as food that is filling but has little nutritional value.
- Can we have more control over what we eat – at home, at school, in public places by changing what is offered?
Workshop 6 From Field to plate
There are diverse routes to market for produce grown in Fife through sales to retailers and the food industry, and growing it for sharing in communities. Local supply chains mean that food grown and produced in Fife stays in Fife. Falkland Farm Kitchen and Grow West Fife are both are examples of local primary producers.
- Community and farm routes to markets are as important as shops and supermarkets.
- Producers and community growers diversified during COVID-19 due to demand for food and Interest in shorter supply chains.
- Primary production of food in Fife is growing. Supported access to land and setting up whether as a community group or producer would be helpful. Can more enterprising landlords and mixed farming practices help to increase land use?
- Selling or sharing directly can be more valuable for raising awareness, education and valuing food: value of keeping food grown in Fife, in Fife. Engagement with public sector procurement would create another route and there is a high cost in not using local suppliers.
- Farms can create waste too through processing and cancelled orders that have no market. Is there a way of collecting this waste collectively and using it productively?
The Fife Food Summit ended after a Q & A discussion chaired by Pete Ritchie with the panel of guests – Hannelore Herreman of Ghent en Garde, Toby Anstruther of Bowhouse in the East Neuk and Geoff Robotham, Greener Kirkcaldy Board Member.
We are grateful to all of the speakers and to everyone who took part in the event – thank you for your time, your ideas and your passion for good food for Fife and our planet.
So what happens next?
We will use the ideas and feedback we gathered during the event to guide our future work. The information will also be shared with key organisations and partnerships – the Fife Food Insecurity Working Group, the new Food4Fife partnership, and others. We’ll post updates on this blog as new initiatives come to fruition.
In the meantime, if you would like to discuss our community food work or future plans, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.