Brighton & Hove win top sustainable food award

An award for everyone who is working on food in the city – the butchers, the bakers, the policy makers

Tonight aboard the SS Great Britain in Bristol, at an event bringing together people from across the UK and Europe, Brighton & Hove will receive an award for the city's work on food. Only a handful of places will receive the independently-judged Sustainable Food Cities Award and we have come out on top.

The criteria for the awards hinge around six ambitious themes: healthy diets, food poverty, the local economy, community activity, public sector food and waste.

Tom Andrews national programme manager of Sustainable Food Cities said: "Brighton & Hove's award demonstrates that cities can take on the incredibly serious food challenges that face us all and make a real difference. They are leading the way of one of the fastest growing social movements in the UK today."

The judging panel were impressed with what the city has achieved, including reducing childhood obesity, improving public sector food, the number and variety of community growing projects that are flourishing, the enterprise seen in sustainable food retail & restaurants and the dynamic community approaches to food waste.

As one of the authors of the city's application I know that this award is down to both those who give the city a long history of food work and to the more recent trail-blazers.  This impressive line up includes:

  • Over 40 years:  Infinity Foods
  • Over 20 years: Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Terre and Terre
  • 10-15 years: BHFP, the Big Lemon and Seedy Sunday

Plus a host in the 'under 5s' including HiSBE, Catchbox, the Food Waste Collective, the Bevy, the Open Market, the Scrumping Project and the Espresso Mushroom Company.

But this award is not just about the innovators. It is also about action in more traditional settings such as the Council's planning guidance on including food growing spaces in new developments and their minimum buying standards for food purchasing – things that sound dull but are transforming thousands of meals a year and impacting on the economy and landscape of the city.

It is about work to improve the food that the city's children and young people eat including:

  • breastfeeding rates well above the national average
  • the number of nurseries that achieve the Healthy Choice Award
  • primary and special schools meals' achievements including Silver Food for Life and MSC certification for fish
  • after-school healthy eating clubs run by Albion in the Community
  • The University of Brighton's work on healthy and sustainable food for their students

The award is for a Public Health team that have been willing to commission community-based interventions around healthy weight that look at prevention and intervention and consider food to be important for both mental and physical health.

It is about what has been achieved by thousands of volunteers who give their time to lunch clubs, growing projects and community compost schemes. It is about elected officials from all parties who have supported food work in their own wards and by the decisions they have made in committee rooms. It is about those food producers, restaurants and retailers who provide good food to the city's residents and tourists and the work of organisations like the Food Festival and Chamber of Commerce that support them.

We achieved the highest award because of the depth and breadth of this work and I think that this is best illustrated by considering the usual footwear of those mentioned in the application – muddy boots, office shoes, chefs clogs, football boots, wellingtons and steel toe-caps to name just a few. Thank you to you all.

This is a moment to celebrate but also to commit to build on the momentum. There are big challenges ahead including work to minimise food waste, to support vulnerable people to eat well and to build the sustainable food economy.  I look forward to the Food Partnership continuing to act alongside all of the determined, inspirational people that make food work in Brighton & Hove special and to finding new food heroes - be they butchers, bakers or policy makers.

 Download our Sustainable Food Cities application.