Our local food systems have far-reaching consequences on our health and the environment, as well as social and economic wellbeing. Local authorities, businesses and communities have the power to influence the sustainability and fairness of our food systems through their buying power, decision-making processes and community engagement. Our research focusses on how such local action and policy making can help to tackle global problems.

Our Impacts and Outputs

Locally grown fruit and vegetables

Food hubs in the UK: Where are we and what next?

This Policy discussion paper was written by N8 AgriFood Knowledge Exchange Fellow Dr Christian Reynolds, from the University of Sheffield, for the Food Research Collaboration; an initiative of the Centre for Food Policy. It explores the role of food hubs and how they can be supported through policy.

Read the paper
Children watering allotment

Shifting food policy from commodity to community thinking

This is a paper was published as part of N8 AgriFood Collection with Emerald Open Research. Written by the Policy Hub’s Communications Manager Laura Knowlson and Dr Rachel Marshall from Lancaster University, it gives a case study of research into local food systems and the role of citizens.

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Healthy meal at food kitchen

Seeking justice: How to understand and end food poverty in York

N8 AgriFood colleagues at the University of York co-founded the York Food Justice Alliance. It’s 2019 report ‘Seeking justice: how to end food poverty in York” provides a clear picture of food poverty and insecurity in York, as well as an action plan setting out a way to unlock food poverty for thousands of people in the city.

Read the report
People at an event

Citizen participation in food systems policy making: A case study of a citizens’ assembly

Food Systems Policy Hub Director Professor Bob Doherty held a York Citizen Food Assembly, which was a collaboration between his IKnowFood team and the York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI). The event was designed to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities facing the food system in York, and to collect people’s views on the future of the York, Yorkshire and UK food system. As a result of the event Prof Doherty co-authored a paper with colleagues from the University of York which has been published in the N8 AgriFood Emerald Open Access collection. The paper asserts that solutions to complex challenges in the food system need the active participation of citizens to drive positive change, and that to achieve this, it is crucial to engage citizens in processes of designing policy interventions. A policy brief from the event was produced for DEFRA and the National Food Strategy team.

read the article

Tackling global food issues through local action

During the official launch week of the Food Systems Policy Hub, we hosted a webinar entitled ‘Tackling global food issues through local action’. Dr Rachel Marshall, Senior Research Associate and N8 AgriFood Knowledge Exchange Fellow at Lancaster University explored the health, environmental, social and economic impacts of local food systems. The session was chaired by Ben Reynolds, Deputy Chief Executive of Sustain – the alliance for better food and farming. The speakers considered various aspects of local food systems, from the role of institutional procurement, to responding to the climate emergency. The webinar also explored the civic role our universities should play in supporting local communities to realise a shared vision for the places we live.

Watch the webinar
Healthy foods in wooden bowls

Growing a resilient food system in Leeds

N8 AgriFood colleagues at the University of Leeds held two workshops to look at how we can enable a climate resilient food system in Leeds that promotes health, sustainability and food security. The workshops included representatives from Leeds Climate Commission Resilience Working Group, Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Yorkshire Water, Nestlé, FoodWise Leeds, Feed Leeds, the Permaculture Assn, Green Futures UK, Leeds Indie Food and Hyde Park Source. Policy Leeds, which works closely with the Food Systems Policy Hub, produced a policy brief outlining the findings from the workshops. They found Leeds has many strengths and opportunities in this area, but will need the Council to show leadership and strategic vision to deliver the benefits.

Read the briefing