A major new initiative to position Belfast as one of six UK Cities to receive special status as a ‘Sustainable Food City’ has been launched.
The Belfast Food Network and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) are calling on the public, local policy-makers and institutional decision-makers here to help strengthen the economy and tourism and improve health and wellbeing by supporting the campaign to make sustainable food a defining characteristic of Belfast.
The Sustainable Food Cities programme is the first of its kind in the UK and will see £1M invested in the growth and promotion of healthy sustainable food to address some of today’s most pressing social, economic and environmental problems including obesity, food poverty and climate change.
Speaking about the project Jim Kitchen of the Belfast Food Network said, “The Belfast Food Network has developed a charter to allow individuals, organisations, businesses and institutions to express their support for the idea of Belfast becoming recognised as a Sustainable Food City. There is plenty of work going on in Belfast to improve our relationship with what we eat. There are also many excellent growing projects and health improvement campaigns which have a focus on food and our vibrant restaurant scene is improving all the time.
“Our objective is to pull together and highlight many of these initiatives. We want to encourage the public, local businesses and organisations to work individually and together to use sustainable food to drive positive social, economic and environmental change and get Belfast the recognition it deserves as a Sustainable Food City.”
Belfast has already been positioned as a founding member of the Sustainable Food Cities programme. Its bid to become one of six cities to receive exemplar Sustainable Food City status, which is being officially supported by Belfast City Council, will enable the City to share knowledge and experience with other UK cities to develop best practice and inspire replication elsewhere.
Gary McFarlane, Director CIEH added, “Belfast is building a reputation as a great food destination and has some of the finest home grown produce right on its doorstep. Local produce encourages tourists to visit and drives the economy through the many hotels and restaurants which have a reputation for food excellence.
“However it is imperative that the people of Belfast also consider the produce they buy and the food they throw away as it can have an extensive impact on the local food system. Belfast has seven of the region’s ten most deprived wards in terms of health; food poverty is a challenging issue which is demanding increasing attention. The potential benefit of attaining UK Sustainable City status is considerable and one that all those with a role and interest in the welfare and wellbeing of our City should get behind.”
Belfast Food Network (www.belfastfoodnetwork.org) is leading the city’s bid, with the funded support of the Food Standards Agency, the Public Health Agency, Belfast Healthy Cities, the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health, the Institute for Public Health and the Soil Association.