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A Magazine for Sheffield

“We want to make a food system that works for everyone”: ShefFood on sovereignty and community

All of Sheffield’s communities and institutions should be able to influence our food system, says the city’s food partnership.

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In Sheffield and across the UK, a spiralling cost of living emergency is further damaging people’s access to nutritious, sustainable, affordable food.

It’s more vital than ever that cities like ours work together to make our neighbourhoods more resilient to increasing costs and lack of food access, because more shocks to the system may be inevitable.

We asked Selina and Sophie from ShefFood, Sheffield’s food partnership, to tell us how citywide collaboration can make a real difference and why local sustainable food systems matter to all of us.

Tell us more about ShefFood and your objectives.

ShefFood is a cross-sector partnership made up of public agencies, businesses, individuals, academic and community organisations across Sheffield.

Food shapes so many parts of life, and we all have an opportunity to contribute towards a better food system. When the food system works for people and for the planet, it brings communities together, makes us all happier and healthier, and develops local economies for both today and tomorrow.

How have you involved local communities and businesses so far?

During the summer of 2022 we created Sheffield’s Food Charter [by asking] for signatures from food-centred organisations from across the city, along with their actions and commitments to a more just, sustainable food system. So far over 60 organisations have signed up to ShefFood’s Charter.

Whilst we are certainly trying to drive change, a large part of ShefFood is simply trying to celebrate all of the fantastic things happening in the city. Many of the partners are working so hard that they forget to recognise and celebrate how fantastic everything they do is!

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Sheffield's Food Charter has been signed by more than 60 organisations so far.


Why is now such a crucial time to come together to facilitate change?

The food we eat comes from complex global systems covering countless hands and activities, from farm to fork and beyond. Our food system, at all levels, is facing many crises.

By investing and developing in local infrastructure, we have more of an opportunity to decide what we eat, where it comes from and ensure that communities in Sheffield can benefit from the process.

How are you helping to make plans become a reality?

We are helping organisations in the city develop and gain agency within some key food policy areas – economy, food access, growing and composting and health. These issues are each tied to working groups made up of businesses, charities and organisations specialising in the field. You can find out more on our website.

We have been supporting Sheffield City Council in writing their food strategy, Fairer, Healthier, Greener, outlining their vision and commitments by 2030. But in the process, we realised that this strategy only represented the voice of SCC. This is where ShefFood has stepped up and is now developing a multi-stakeholder Food Action Plan.

This vast collaboration of passionate people have been helping to write a food plan for the city at ShefFood’s working group events. These events are continuing throughout March and April, and once each part of the plan is written, they will be brought together to form a full plan of action, which will be launched at Victoria Hall on 17 May.

What do you need from communities and the people of Sheffield to make your vision successful?

Food shapes so many parts of life and we all have an opportunity to contribute towards a better food system.

If you haven't already, open your eyes to all of the fantastic food businesses in the city: support your local restaurants and shops!

If you are interested in making more of a change to the Sheffield food system, then get involved in your local area. This could look like coming to a ShefFood meeting to influence food policy, but it could also be joining a local growing group or volunteering at a community kitchen.

We are working hard to ensure that the ShefFood partnership represents the entire city, and all communities within it. We are constantly on the lookout for new partners and working hard to expand our reach in less well-represented parts through outreach via our partners.

You can keep up to date with all ShefFood activities by signing up to our newsletter and following us on social media.

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