London Boroughs ‘mapped’ on sustainable food progress

THE LONDON Boroughs of Islington and Richmond-upon-Thames have been praised for “inspiring food leadership” for their work to promote healthy and sustainable food.


However, there are huge differences in the action being taken by London Boroughs, according to the unique audit carried out by Sustain.


A total of 33 Boroughs were assessed on a range of sustainability practices. The seven areas covered included their support for community food growing, improvements to school food, help for residents to reduce food waste, work with local food outlets to use healthier ingredients, and commitments to buy ethical food in schools and local authority canteens, including Fairtrade products, free range eggs and sustainable fish.


The results have been mapped to show clearer how the Boroughs are performing in each category. Eight more Boroughs out of the total of 33 were praised for “making excellent progress on key food issues”. Meanwhile, six Boroughs were highlighted as “lagging behind disappointingly on action to support healthy and sustainable food” – Bexley, Brent, Hillingdon, Lewisham, Newham and Westminster.


The progress being made by Boroughs to promote healthier catering was seen as “impressive”, with many already part of the new Healthier Catering Commitment. The scheme offers guidance to caterers and restaurants, describing straightforward changes that can be made to menus and the way food is prepared to ensure healthier diets and less waste.


Kath Dalmeny, policy director of Sustain, said some of the results are “inspiring” but there is scope for London’s Boroughs to do much more, particularly to promote local and sustainably produced food, and to tackle childhood obesity.


The audit will be repeated early in 2012 to track progress, with additional measures planned to look at uptake of school meals, support for families living on a low income to buy good food, good food in planning policy, promoting local shops and markets, use of Real Bread, and supporting a bee-friendly environment.


It is hoped that significant progress will be made in time for the London Olympics.