A new report from the UK-based University of the West of England highlights the importance of Local Food Partnerships (LFPs) as they pivot to respond to a national crisis.
This report demonstrates how Sustainable Food Places (SFP) members have stepped up to play a critical part in the food crisis relief effort and continue to fill the leadership gap on local food concerns in the post-COVID-19 pandemic space.
SFP was created to bring about a fundamental change in the food system. SFP’s goal has been to accelerate, motivate and promote multi-sector, local food partnerships in taking a strategic and holistic approach to the sustainable food agenda.
LFPs are multi-sector groups that own and advance agendas related to their community’s food system. The report notes that currently, 69 LFPs are members of SFP, a UK program led by three national sustainable food organizations – the Soil Association, Sustain and Food Matters.
Meeting local and national food priorities
The COVID-19 pandemic and skyrocketing food prices have brought attention to how local communities are dealing with the issues of a broken food system.
Through the strategic direction and support of the UK-wide SFP program – which was developed a decade previous to the pandemic – LFPs have been positioned to give systems leadership and practical solutions.
LFPs have been able to pivot to adapt quickly to a prolonged national crisis and have gone forward to provide a coherent framework for local food systems’ change.
The SFPs framework
Four main arguments for the significance of local food partnerships emerge as the report’s themes are brought together. Effectiveness, efficiency, engagement and equity are all on the table.
In terms of effectiveness, LFPs address the local food systems’ fragmented and compartmentalized activities. LFPs are a partnership that helps coordinate action on local food system dysfunctions and chances for change by working across complicated and cross-boundary environments.
Emergency food response (Credit: GCDA).
LFPs encourage public, private and third-sector agencies to collaborate and share resources to increase efficiency. This cooperation concept offers a great way to create efficiency, minimize redundancy and build innovative solutions.
LFPs are aimed to focus activity on the interests of people and the environment, rather than the convenience of providers, from the perspective of engagement. This requires the existence of consultation and co-production channels. LFPs are set up to interact with lived experiences and find solutions.
Finally, in terms of equity, LFPs use their open networks, outreach and democratic structure to react to the moral and legal justification for promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. LFPs serve as collectives working for local food system leadership by welcoming different viewpoints.
Solution for the food and supply chain issue?
The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war has been most noticeable in the food and agriculture industries. FoodIngredientsFirst previously reported how sustainable solutions (such as locally grown produce) would outlast the current crisis. The conflict has also resulted in sunflower oil shortages, leading to further food supply issues.
To add to this global food crisis, many British egg producers are suffering unprecedented increases in the cost of producing eggs, with some farms seeing increases of up to 30%, putting them on the verge of bankruptcy. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of farms are in danger of going out of business if profits do not improve considerably.
Edited by Nicole Kerr
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