Recognition for food places with Council award

Recognition for food places with Council award

29 November 2023

NEWRY, Mourne and Down Council’s commitment to championing sustainable, healthy and locally sourced food has won it a sustainable food places bronze award.

The award acknowledges the local authority’s collaborative efforts to address societal challenges, ranging from food poverty and diet-related health issues to the preservation of family farms and independent food retailers.

In addition, the award recognises evidence-based initiatives by producers and growers, celebrating locations that adopt a comprehensive, interconnected approach to sustainability and well-being through food. 

Award recipients showcase impactful initiatives across their entire food system, driven by a concerted effort from food partnerships and their stakeholders.  

According to the judging panel’s feedback, the local authority’s application demonstrated exceptional strengths in action planning and public awareness building and notable efforts in addressing the climate and nature emergency. 

The commendation also highlighted areas for potential enhancement, specifically focusing on strategic approaches to combatting food poverty and promoting local food enterprises to complement the tourism-oriented initiatives.

Overall, the panel commended the evidence of tremendous work from community and voluntary sector alongside local producers and growers.

The journey towards the award began in 2021 when the organisation established the Sustainable Food Places (SFP) Core Partnership Group. 

With a focus on developing a comprehensive framework for sustainable food practices within the district, the Council initiated inclusive dialogue with individuals, community groups, businesses and council services engaged in sustainable food practices. 

This collaborative approach aimed to weave together ongoing projects, success stories, future plans, aspirations, and potential partnerships to shape a sustainable food landscape.

Council chairwoman, Valerie Harte, said the organisation is delighted to be one of only two local authorities from the province to have received a bronze award.

“I would like to congratulate all producers and growers who work so hard within our agri-food sector,” she said.

 This includes over 20 community and voluntary organisations who have a passion for horticulture, their efforts in social farming have transformed the physical and mental well-being of many volunteers within our district.” 

Sustainable Food Places programme manager, Leon Ballin, said the local council demonstrated what can be achieved when creative and committed people work together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live.

He added: “While there is still much to do and many challenges to overcome, Newry, Mourne and Down Council has helped to set a benchmark for other members of the UK Sustainable Food Places Network to follow.”