Award for islington's food work

12 Jul 2022

Islington has been granted Bronze status in the prestigious Sustainable Food Places Awards. The bid, led by Islington Food Partnership and hosted by Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, saw the Borough judged on its response to several major issues, including food poverty, food waste, sustainability, supply chains and access to healthy food.

Thanks to the help and innovation of local residents and organisations, the Borough has made huge strides in a number of areas around food over the past few years.

Some key examples and highlights include:

  • Establishing the Islington Food Cooperative Network as a sustainable alternative to food banks across the Borough. It is a network of seven community organisation-based food cooperatives and many more resident-led food-buying groups, which enable residents to come together to access surplus and wholesale food at affordable prices.
  • Islington has provided seed funding to support a new local business Wings, an ethical food delivery app
  • Arsenal FC (Arsenal in the Community) are setting up a growing & wild garden, in partnership with Octopus Community Network, and will be the first Premier League club to make their own honey, utilising unused space in the ground.
  • Islington Food Partnership organisations mobilised quickly to deliver over 2,000 emergency food packages each week during lockdowns
  • Community centres Elizabeth House and Mildmay hosted Community Cooks Training Programmes in 2021, providing training and advice to support local residents to set up their own food initiatives.

Designed to recognise places taking a joined up approach to food, the Sustainable Food Places Awards are all about celebrating significant positive change on a range of key food issues. The awards are open to any town, city, Borough or district across the country that is driving innovation and best practice on all aspects of healthy and sustainable food.

Islington has become the fifth London Borough to achieve Bronze status, with only two other parts of the UK - Brighton & Hove and Bristol - having achieved Gold. Greenwich holds the distinction of being the only London Borough to achieve Silver to date, but with a new food strategy in the pipeline, Islington is hoping to pip them to the post and become the first London Borough to turn Gold.

“It’s so fantastic to receive this award in recognition of the efforts of so many people,” said Alex Britten, Chair of Islington Food Partnership. “Communities and organisations across Islington have been leading so many innovative and impactful approaches to developing an ambitious and sustainable food network for the Borough. It’s something we can all celebrate.”

As a broad coalition of local organisations and individuals working together to develop an ambitious and sustainable food network for the borough, the partnership is transforming not only the culture of food in Islington, but also how the food system functions. “We have several overarching goals,” Alex continued. “We’re ensuring healthy affordable food for all, supporting a sustainable local food economy for businesses to thrive, and tackling the climate and nature emergency head on.”

Working with the public sector, local businesses and grassroots groups, Islington Food Partnership consists of over 70 different organisations and has been in operation since 2019. Shortly after forming, the partnership published the Food Poverty Action Plan, with the primary goal of ensuring every Islington resident eats at least one nutritious meal each day.

Over the past few years, the partnership has worked to meet the additional challenges of the pandemic, mobilising together to distribute thousands of food parcels and meals. When primary schools faced difficulties with the uptake of free school meals during lockdown, local organisations stepped in to provide hampers for families, along with vouchers and holiday activity schemes.

To kickstart their new overarching food strategy, the partnership recently held a “Feed Into Islington'' event at Union Chapel, encouraging local residents and businesses to contribute ideas around tackling food poverty, transforming supply chains and creating a sustainable food economy. With 50 people in attendance, food on the day was provided by the Margins Project, a member of the partnership that supports people facing homelessness with advice, training and regular community meals.

The ideas generated at the event were just the first step towards shaping the future of food right across the Borough. “We’re building a local movement to make all this happen,” Alex said. “With the current cost of living crisis our work is more important than ever. We’re determined to make a real difference to the lives - and plates - of every single person in Islington.”

 

Find out more about Manor Gardens Welfare Trust