Council will tackle food poverty and promote sustainable local production
Taking action on food poverty and making good food available for all will be at the heart of work by Vale of the White Horse District Council to help realise the vision of Oxfordshire’s Food Strategy.
The council will work with community, voluntary sector and business partners to develop a detailed local food action plan for the district to help achieve the objectives of the food strategy. The plan’s aims will include reducing food poverty in communities following the impact of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis, promoting local and sustainable food and decreasing food waste.
Supporting the county-wide strategy with a local plan of action for the Vale aligns with the council’s corporate priorities on building healthy communities and tackling the climate emergency and its motions on sustainable food and farming and the cost of living (18 May 2022).
Oxfordshire County Council has allocated £250,000 of funding to be divided between district and city councils to help create and deliver the local action plans. Vale will use the funding to work with its partners to create and deliver a local action plan in 2023.
Cllr Bethia Thomas, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “With the cost-of-living crisis and Brexit creating additional strain on the food system, it’s vital we work closely with our partners to create an effective plan. Our local action plan will help ensure that everyone in the Vale can enjoy the healthy and sustainable food they need every day.
“Agriculture is a very important part of our local economy. By promoting local sustainable farming, we can help make a positive impact on our rural economy, and by supporting food redistribution through local community larders, we will reduce our impact on the planet.”
The Vale is working on a focused programme for its new Food and Farming Champion to help promote food production, distribution, and healthy eating across the district.
Notes to editors
About the Oxfordshire Food Strategy
The aim of the Oxfordshire Food Strategy is to ensure that everyone in Oxfordshire can enjoy the healthy and sustainable food they need every day.
It was developed in partnership with organisations including Good Food Oxfordshire, district and city councils, community groups, local farmers and other food businesses, to improve Oxfordshire’s food system and make it more sustainable, affordable and resilient.
Covid-19 brought the issues of food insecurity, access to healthy, affordable food and the impact of these on health into sharp focus. Oxfordshire food banks saw a three-four-fold increase in use, with a conservative estimate that around 6,000 people a week required support to access food. [Source: GFO Good Food Oxford ‘Oxfordshire’s Community Food Services: Summary of Research Findings’ (May 2020), Oxfordshire’s Community Food Services: Summary of Research Findings (goodfoodoxford.org)]
While local community food networks across the district rose to the challenge, it became clear that there was a need for an end-to-end strategy covering all key organisations and stakeholders in the Oxfordshire system. The district and city councils agreed that Oxfordshire County Council would commission Good Food Oxfordshire to develop a food strategy for Oxfordshire.