November 2023

University partners with Birmingham City Council to host innovative discussions on access to healthy and affordable food

By Carrie Mok

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University College Birmingham is proud to have partnered with Birmingham City Council as part of its Cost of Living Week, hosting the ‘Food Security & Resilience’ Creative Dinner on Monday 6th November at its award-winning Restaurant at the Birmingham College of Food.

The event was part of a week-long programme for Cost of Living Week from Monday 6th to Friday 10th November 2023 and marked the fourth in a series of Creative Dinners in collaboration with the Food System team as part of the Public Health in Birmingham City Council.

The ‘Food Security & Resilience’ Creative Dinner brought together trailblazers across the food system to discuss improving access to nutritious and affordable food for citizens. Discussion points included local challenges in the Birmingham food system and where there are gaps and opportunities for innovative approaches, as well as increasing resilience in our food system for example through beans and pulses.

Speakers included Dr Anne Coufopoulos, Executive Dean - School of Health, Sport and Food and registered dietitian at University College Birmingham; Florence Cadge, Coordinator of the Food Justice Network, The Active Wellbeing Society; John Millichap, Corporate Funding Officer, The Active Wellbeing Society;  Jo Lewis, Director of Partnerships, British Dietetic Association; Dr Rachel Loopstra, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems, University of Liverpool; and Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council.

Dr Anne Coufopoulos said: “Increasing access to sufficient affordable, nutritious and safe food for all citizens, all the time, in every community and at every age is one of the cross-cutting theme objectives of the Birmingham Food System Strategy. Collectively at the Centre for Urban Food we have a responsibility to contribute to meeting this key objective, as well as supporting and advocating for innovation and collaboration across different sectors in addressing food insecurity.”

As part of the Dinner, a three-course meal using affordable and nutritious ingredients was prepared by students from the Birmingham College of Food at University College Birmingham

Previous Creative Dinners have explored food innovation, food transformation and food behaviour change as well as the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the food system and collectively driving for medium- and long-term solutions to food injustice and food insecurity.

More recently, the Public Health division launched the Birmingham Food System Strategy and celebrated the city’s food revolution. Formed from projects across the city, the strategy included consultations with stakeholders (including the Birmingham College of Food) across the hospitality sector aiming to transform the food system.

Cllr Mariam Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at the council said:
"It's so important that people have access to food that is nutritious as well as affordable - it can make such a positive difference to general wellbeing as well as physical health, and it is vital for growing children. That's why the Cost of Living week is actually about making a long-term, sustainable difference to people's lives. The Creative Dinners is a fantastic initiative which has been shining a spotlight on a variety of important food-related topics with key stakeholders in the food system here in Birmingham, and I am delighted that so many of us are at that table and contributing to these discussions.”

The week-long Cost of Living programme will see coordinated events, promotional activities and external affairs opportunities, jointly delivered by businesses, charities and community centres across the city. There is no cost to the council to deliver the programme.

Birmingham City Council’s Cost of Living Programme (Help in Brum campaign) was set up in 2022 with key successes including a network of 243 warm spaces across the city, cash contributions to over 100 foodbanks, energy bill top-ups to 3400 households, and at least £1,717,285 in income and benefits maximisation for the most vulnerable residents.

In pictures: Food Security & Resilience Creative Dinner

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