A North East city has been chosen to head a national campaign to get people eating more healthily and help tackle issues like childhood obesity.
Newcastle is one of just six sites across the UK to be named a Sustainable Food City as part of a three-year ‘Good Life’ style project.
During that time it will share a £1m funding pot to launch initiatives which will see the likes of schools and hospitals either growing their own fruit and vegetables or sourcing them from local producers.
Newcastle City Council, which is match funding the project, is to do its bit with suggested initiatives contained in a draft action plan such as reclaiming land for allotment use and, more controversially, looking into ways of limiting the amount of fast food outlets opening in areas.
A council spokesman admitted this would be tricky as “public health is not part of the licensing process”.
But it is hoped that when the action plan is completed, more progress could be made encouraging takeaways to use sustainable local food.
Meanwhile, speaking about the overall project, Jamie Sadler, chair of the Food Newcastle Steering Group said: “This is an incredible opportunity for Newcastle to build on its already thriving food culture and use food as a vehicle to drive positive change.
“In Newcastle we’ve got a number of important food related issues, for example childhood obesity, environmental sustainability, food banks and food waste.”
The Sustainable Food City network, of which Newcastle is a founding member, is an alliance of public and private organisations.
It helps explore practical solutions and develop best practice in all aspects of sustainable food.
Led by the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain and funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the aim of the chosen six – whittled down from nearly 50 – is to show what a city can do to transform its food culture The other five are Belfast, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Liverpool and Stockport and it is hoped more than 100 urban areas across the UK will join the network by the end of the three-year programme.
Interviews are being carried out to employ a full time dedicated Sustainable Food City officer to co-ordinate the work the project. It is hoped the appointment will be made in the next couple of months.
Dr Dawn Scott, acting director of public health at Newcastle City Council, said: “I’m really proud that Newcastle has been recognised for its great work around sustainable food and will receive a share of £1m funding.
“I’ll make sure the city council plays a key role in continuing to improve our work to increase access to healthy food and that we continue to tackle public health issues around obesity and nutrition.”