Ensuring food is available and affordable to all
"I am particularly pleased that there is recognition that we can't do things to communities; rather, we must work with communities, involving them in their priority issues and in identifying solutions. This is why the community food movement has such a pivotal contribution to make."
David Simmers, Chief Executive, Community Food Initiatives North East
Access and affordability
Access to, and the affordability of, healthy food is an issue for some in our society particularly in recent times when food prices have increased during the economic downturn. All of Scotland's people deserve access to affordable and healthy food.
Percentage of UK household expenditure spent on food and non-alcoholic beverages by decile 2005/2006
While we should acknowledge that the proportion of family income spent on food remains low in a historical or global context, price volatility does have a profound impact on people's buying habits and their relationship with the food and drink they consume. This poses a challenge we can't ignore specifically when taking forward our commitment to address health Inequalities in Scotland.
Scotland has both a remarkable legacy as well as an admirable current resource in its social enterprises, community and voluntary sector. These sectors have the potential to become an intermediary between major multiples and vulnerable individuals. Their strengths will be recognised and supported as we take forward our food and drink agenda.
What we have done
It is clear that more people are interested in growing their own fruit and vegetables - because of the potential health, wellbeing and environmental benefits of doing so. Since last year we have awarded almost £700,000 to grow your own and community food projects through the Climate Challenge Fund. We have also been liaising with public sector bodies and Allotment organisations about how we can all take the grow your own agenda forward.
We have tackled the health inequalities that have blighted Scotland for decades in partnership with local authorities and the third sector through the implementation of the 78 recommendations set out in Equally Well - Implementation Plan, published in 2008. We have also enabled local authorities to tackle both health inequalities and dietary health issues through the provision of free school lunches to every P1-P3 pupil in Scotland from August 2010.
We have also worked hard to mitigate against poverty and the knock-on effect on people's health and ability to buy food through a framework for dealing with poverty and income inequality in Scotland and the establishment of the Fairer Scotland Fund. The Fund (£435 million over 3 years) helps community planning partnerships to tackle local issues related to poverty and disadvantage.
We have also increased the availability of fruit and vegetables in convenience stores particularly in deprived areas through the Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme.
- Explore the evidence around food poverty in Scotland in different income groups and areas (both urban and rural), looking in more detail at what activities are already being done and developing an action plan for supporting and promoting successful future approaches.
- Support vulnerable groups, including those living in rural areas and the elderly living in the community, by evaluating the evidence and potential actions around access to affordable healthy food.
- Work in partnership with the Retailers Forum to examine issues and actions relating to access and affordability of healthy and sustainable foods.
- Build on research being carried out by NHS Health Scotland and work by the FSA on food access and affordability and develop options on further initiatives to improve the buying power of convenience stores of good quality fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Continue to support the Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme which seeks to improve the availability of healthier food options to communities through the convenience store sector.
- Extend entitlement to free school lunches to more families in need from August 2009.
- Increase the uptake of healthy start scheme vouchers for pregnant women and children under 4 to purchase fruit and vegetables and look to extend the range of produce that can be purchased with the vouchers.
Alternative food systems and community based activities
- Identify how community food groups and social enterprises can be supported to deliver a long-term strategic programme for a stronger community food and health sector.
Growing your own food
- Ensure that allotments and 'grow your own' projects are strategically supported.
- Produce practical advice and best practice guidance that will appeal to public bodies, communities and individuals to help them develop local 'grow your own' initiatives.