THE TOWER HAMLETS FOOD PARTNERSHIP – OUR APPROACH

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: 

  • Gregory Cohn, Seeds for Growth 
  • Philippa Conlin, FareShare 
  • Ellie Kershaw, LB Tower Hamlets Tackling Poverty 
  • Natalie Lovell/Katy Scammell, LB Tower Hamlets Public Health 
  • Mirca Morera, Clarion Futures 
  • Elaine Swan, University of Sussex 
  • Sarah Williams, Sustain 
  • Jo Wilson/Beth Summers, 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: 

Strengths 

  • 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 

Challenges 

 

  • 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. 

Grow/Cook/Eat

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.  

To get started, fill in our membership form or email Jo to arrange a chat. 

 

JO WILSON,  FOOD PARTNERSHIP COORDINATOR

Jo believes that food is a tool to improve the health of both people and place. A specialist in developing programmes, building networks and influencing policy, she is committed to shaping a greener, healthier and more equitable city.

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