What is the Tower Hamlets Food Partnership?

The partnership brings organisations and individuals together to shape a better food system for everyone in Tower Hamlets. Members include housing providers, food charities, small businesses, schools, social enterprises, community gardeners and the council. 

The Partnership is governed by a steering group and led by Wen. Sarah Williams, Programmes Director at Sustain, is our chair. Steering group members are: 

  • Sarah Williams, Programme Director, Sustain – Co-Chair 
  • Katy Scammell, Deputy Director, Healthy Environments, LB Tower Hamlets (Katy is on maternity leave) 
  • Natalie Lovell, Programme Manager, Healthy Environments, LBTH 
  • Bala Thakrar, Head of Community Wellbeing, Poplar HARCA  
  • Gregory Cohn, Director, Seeds of Growth     
  • Freddie Askham, Community Coordinator,The Felix Project         
  • Alison Robert, Partnerships Manager, Tower Hamlets CVS  
  • Elaine Swan    Senior, Researcher, University of Sussex   
  • Pedro Costa, Wen  


Tower Hamlets Food Partnership is part of the Sustainable Food Places network, which encourages cities, towns, boroughs and counties in the UK to transform their local food system through cross-sector partnerships.  

What do we know about food in Tower Hamlets? 

Food is at the heart of some of the borough’s most pressing social, environmental and economic issues. It’s also central to some of its greatest strengths, which present opportunities for positive change. In 2019, we conducted extensive research of the borough’s food system. Here are some of the key strengths and challenges we identified: 


  • A vibrant community sector…. 
  • diverse population with varied culinary traditions… 
  • Above-average amounts of social housing… 
  • Celebrated food markets, and other opportunities to buy affordable produce, often within walking distance…  
  • Abundant opportunities to eat multicultural, multifaith food, such as street food stalls and pop-ups… 
  • Multiple community food-growing projects… 
  • Silver standard Food for Life served in many of the borough’s schools… 
  • Borough’s Food for Health scheme encourages fast food businesses to sell more nutritious food 


  • High levels of adult and child food insecurity… 
  • High levels of child poverty… 
  • High proportion of children eligible for free school meals… 
  • High reliance on food aid, such as food banks… 
  • High density of fast food outlets… 
  • High levels of childhood obesity… 
  • High levels of food waste ending up in landfill 

Read more about this research in our Action Plan

What is the Partnership’s vision for good food? 

Following extensive engagement with organisations and communities across the borough, we developed a vision for an equitable, sustainable and inclusive food system: 

How does the Partnership work? 

The steering group meets quarterly to discuss strategy, finance and governance issues.  

Wen is the lead organisation of the Partnership – we coordinate all Partnership activity, and interact with relevant London and national organisations, such as the London Food Board and the Sustainable Food Places network. 

Wen establishes and convenes action groups on priority areas. Current groups are: 


Fair Food for All  

This group works to make all our communities able to access good food. This includes amplifying the voices of members of our community that are experiencing food insecurity, and helping to develop innovative, community-led projects that distribute food to where it’s needed. 

Key project: principles for a just and sustainable food recovery 

Key project: community food pantries  

Find out more: contact group co-chairs Natalie Lovell, London Borough of Tower Hamlets or Morven Oliver-Larkin, Sustain. 


This group works to support our community growers, cooks, trainers and meal-providers, by sharing information, resources and projects, and helping to protect assets and demonstrate value. 

This group will commence activities in early 2021. Contact Jo if you would like to know more.  

How can I get involved? 

Anyone organisation or individual that wants to take action for good food in Tower Hamlets can become a member of the Partnership. Members can choose which action groups they would like to participate in, or simply sign up to our monthly updates.  



Pedro Costa


pedro costa,  local food programme manager

Pedro has a background in Food Policy and 10 years of experience in sustainable food systems and environmental communications. He’s driven by food’s potential to bring everyone together to ensure a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system.

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