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Cambridge City Council

Cambridge Sustainable Food Partnership receives prestigious award for transforming the city’s food system

11 March 2024

Cambridge Sustainable Food Partnership has been awarded a prestigious Gold Award from Sustainable Food Places on behalf of the city. This award recognises Cambridge as leading the way in transforming local food systems to better serve our communities, the environment and the local economy. Cambridge is only the third place in the UK to receive this accolade.

The Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Jenny Gawthrope Wood, joined members of the Cambridge Food Partnership and wider sustainable food network on Monday 11 March to celebrate this amazing achievement and to receive the award from Sustainable Food Places.

The award is a result of ten years’ hard work by local organisations, businesses, local authorities, volunteers and community groups, coordinated by Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC and the Cambridge Food Partnership on behalf of the city, to build a fairer, more sustainable local food system. 

This work has seen the partnership and wider network create lasting change across Cambridge, with a particular focus on food justice for local communities, and action on climate and biodiversity issues. This includes coordinating food provision through the city’s community food hubs and wider food projects; delivering surplus food to frontline services across the city and saving it from landfill; connecting communities through cooking, sharing and growing food together; running the city’s annual Food for the Planet Festival and supporting local food businesses to become more sustainable.

The Sustainable Food Places Awards is the only award scheme of its kind, and celebrates the pioneering work of places taking a holistic approach to ensuring sustainable and healthy food is available to everyone. The programme brings together over 90 food partnerships from towns, cities, boroughs, districts and counties across the UK which are taking a best practice approach to food system change. Cambridge has proved itself a leader in this group, excelling in tackling food issues such as building public awareness and a local good food movement and embedding sustainability into catering and procurement.

Sam Dyer MBE, CEO of Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC, said: “While Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC has coordinated this bid, this achievement truly belongs to the city of Cambridge and all who live and work here. This award has been ten years in the making and reflects the commitment and actions of so many towards building a fair and sustainable food system. 

"This collaborative approach has increased access to affordable good food and nurtured a food system that supports people’s health and livelihoods while protecting the planet. From the volunteers, community groups and organisations championing food justice; to all those pledging to try a ‘climate diet’ and signing the Cambridge Climate Change Charter; to our universities, food businesses, growers and workplaces promoting healthy, planet friendly produce, and the commitment and support of our local authorities - Cambridge has made huge strides in changing the local food system for the better, and this gold award is a reflection of everyone’s dedication to the cause. 

"It shows what we can achieve when we work together and we look forward to building on this fantastic achievement as we continue to work towards healthy and sustainable food for all.”

Cambridge City Council played a key role in the city’s journey to gold, supporting the development and activities of the Community Food Hubs and the Food Poverty Alliance, convened by Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC, as well as advocating for food justice by declaring Cambridge a Right to Food City. The council’s well-established Climate Strategy and Climate Change Charter, which both include a commitment to sustainable food, and continued support for annual Food for the Planet festivals and wider campaigns, also contributed to the award achievement.

Cllr Rachel Wade, Executive Councillor for Communities said: “What’s good for us is also good for the planet. By making more sustainable food choices, we are keeping ourselves healthy whilst taking action on the associated environmental impacts. 

"The Gold Food Award is a testament to all of the hard work that has gone into making sure that everyone in the city can access healthy and sustainable food with dignity.

“Both nationally and locally, we know that many people have been facing challenging times, sometimes having to choose between eating and heating. By working together, we hope to have eased this burden and supported our residents. It is great to see how empowered residents were to come together and take action for the better of our communities – without those that volunteered their time or made donations we wouldn’t have come this far. We still have a long way to go until we can achieve food justice for the city, but these efforts really make a difference to those struggling to put food on the table.”

Cllr Anna Smith, Deputy Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, said: “Congratulations to Cambridge Sustainable Food, Cambridge City Council and the large numbers of individuals and groups who have contributed to this success over many years. Cambridge is the first district council area in the country to be awarded Gold status, and this is a testament to the hard work and vision of Cambridge Sustainable Food and so many others. Their tireless efforts not only supported Cambridge during the challenging times of Covid but continue to champion food justice and sustainability.

"At the Combined Authority, we are committed to cooperation and to enabling resilient communities. We applaud the dedicated partnership working which has gone on to reach this point.

"The imperative for sustainable food extends beyond crisis response—it's about stewarding our resources wisely, addressing inequality, and combating climate change. This award highlights the transformative potential of powerful partnerships. Together we can make remarkable strides towards a more sustainable and equitable future.”