Hannah French, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Bristol City Council – Written evidence (FPO0047)
This submission focuses on responding to the below question posed by the committee:
- “What role can local authorities play in promoting healthy eating in their local populations, especially among children and young people, and those on lower incomes? How effectively are local authorities able to fulfil their responsibilities to improve the health of people living in their areas? Are you aware of any existing local authority or education initiatives that have been particularly successful (for example, schemes around holiday hunger, providing information on healthy eating, or supporting access to sport and exercise)”
- Our vision is for Bristol to be a city where people are a healthy weight, with an environment that makes it easier for everyone, regardless of age, background, circumstance or where they live, to access affordable healthy food and have an active lifestyle.
- We recognise the causes of unhealthy weight are complex so will require a co-ordinated ‘whole city’ approach requiring action across the local authority, NHS, education settings, food businesses, leisure & sport providers, workplaces and communities, to deliver long-term change.
- Bristol City Council is focused on delivering this whole city approach through a variety of activities. A key document is our draft strategy ‘Alive Bristol’ (2019-2022) that identifies a range of activities and ambitions to be delivered by the Council alongside partnership work across the city. The approach is reflected in the One City Plan that is the product of the city’s collective commitment that by 2050, Bristol is a fair, healthy and sustainable city.
- As part of our strategy, Bristol City Council is supporting a range of projects including the city’s bid to become a Gold Sustainable Food City – ‘Going for Gold’, the charity Feeding Bristol and has developed a Healthy Schools programme that is a whole-school approach to improving health and wellbeing for pupils, staff and families.
Focused on these examples, this submission seeks to provide further detail on how Bristol City Council and its partners are collectively working to address the challenges of health inequalities and food sustainability.
- Approximately a third of children and over half of adults in Bristol are overweight or obese, and there are wide and increasing inequalities between the most and least deprived areas of the city.
- In 2017/18 in Bristol, 56% of adults were overweight or obese, lower than the average for England in 2017. However, this masks wide and growing inequalities; the top fifth most deprived adults were 2.5 times more likely to be obese than the top fifth least deprived. As of 2016, poor diets and poor nutrition were estimated to be responsible for 16.8% of premature deaths in Bristol.
- Within the 10% most deprived wards, 17.2% of Bristol households have also experienced moderate to severe food insecurity.
- Nearly 11,000 children in Bristol are registered for free school meals, accounting for approximately 20% of all children, with anecdotal feedback to partners indicating the actual number who struggle to access nutritious meals is higher and that this problem becomes more acute during the school holidays.
One City Approach
- In January 2019, Bristol published its first ever One City Plan. It is the product of the city’s commitment to come together to agree and work for the future we want to see by 2050. Relevant ambitions for the subject of this committee inquiry include:
- By 2026: Halt the rise in levels of childhood overweight and obesity
- By 2030: Close the inequality gap in childhood overweight and obesity
- In September 2019, Bristol’s One City Approach to join up local governance was recognised by the European Commission’s European Capital of Innovation Awards, with the title of European Capital of Innovation to be awarded on September 25.
- Our success is based on how replicable this unique model is for shaping and investing in the future of a city, and has been recognised as a role model for urban innovation.
To help drive this whole city approach in tackling inequality, health inequalities and food sustainability, Bristol City Council is exploring a range of activities and initiatives.
- Our Alive Bristol strategy (2019-22, currently in draft) is a whole city approach to healthy weight. The plan includes a wide range of activities and commitments that will be required to deliver long-term change, for both us as a Council and by working alongside our partners.
- This wide ranging, ambitious plan includes adopting the Local Government Declaration on Healthy Weight in early 2020; acting as a partner to Feeding Bristol, to ensure proposed outcomes are aligned with health and wellbeing objectives; and supporting Going for Gold, Sustainable Food Cities. The Council is seeking ‘partner pledges’ from local NHS organisations, building on existing partnerships and preventative policies.
- The Alive Bristol strategy covers a range of themes, as below, with the draft due to be finalised in autumn 2019.
Going for Gold: Sustainable Food Cities
- Awarded a Silver Sustainable Food Cities Award, Bristol is now making a bid to be recognised as a Gold Sustainable Food (SFC) City by the end of 2020. No city in the UK has yet received a gold Sustainable Food City award.
- Aligned with the One City Approach, Going for Gold (G4G) is designed as a strategic ‘umbrella’ initiative that connects up different strands of food-related work led by different organisations in the city (e.g. Feeding Bristol, Bristol Waste), with the aim of together scaling up impact on specific goals of the six food action areas, through improved coordination and collaboration.
- It is coordinated by a partnership that includes Bristol City Council, Bristol Food Network, Bristol Green Capital Partnership and Resource Futures. Bristol City Council’s Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig is chair of the quarterly G4G steering group.
- To gain Gold SFC status, we need to mobilise the city to take collective action to buy better, eat better, reduce food waste, grow more nature-friendly food in the city, support the food community and promote food equality.
- We also need to become a national exemplar in two of our six food system change areas. Our exemplar ambitions are to: i) become a Zero Food Waste City by reducing and recycling our food waste ii) improve Bristol’s catering and procurement through increased uptake of recognised procurement accreditations and buying more from food producers in our region.
- The evidence base to support our bid will be provided to the Sustainable Food Cities programme by Autumn 2020.
Bristol Healthy Schools
- Bristol Healthy Schools is our whole-school approach to improving health and wellbeing for pupils, staff and families.
- In Bristol, food has been a core focus for the programme and it has largely focussed on improving school lunches and the dining environment, teaching practical cooking and growing skills, encouraging families to create healthy packed lunches, improving the food offer in breakfast and after school clubs, reducing food poverty by running free breakfast clubs, having a clear food policy, supporting staff training on food and nutrition and having leadership for the topic in school.
- In the last two years, nearly 60 schools have achieved Healthy Schools awards:
- A primary school in Bristol was one of the first schools to pass the Physical Activity Badge. They have developed a culture that celebrates and rewards physical activity and gets children loving being active. The school makes sure that all pupils get at least: 2 hours of PE a week and 30 minutes of activity a day. The pupils have record books that show when they’ve done 50, 100 and 300 activities, with a focus on effort not excellence, to encourage them. Parents and carers are also invited to a mile run every Monday encouraged to travel actively to school, including the ‘Park and Stride’ idea, where those who have to drive park further from school and walk the rest of the journey.
- An infant school in the city has secured its Food and Nutrition Badge by adopting a whole school approach to food and nutrition which was documented in a well thought out whole school food policy. Work has included practical cooking sessions offered to each year group at least 3 x per school year with an emphasis on savoury choices; growing and gardening opportunities included for each year group at least 3 x per year, including a homework project for growing at home with parents and carers; and provision of a breakfast club that provides a varied choice of great tasting, nutritious food for pupils to access before the school day. The school has also launched ‘Have a drink to help you think’ whilst a golden lunch box and golden cutlery award has been launched to celebrate pupils’ varied food choices.
- Bristol City Council is also a partner to Feeding Bristol, a charity focused on driving systemic change to increase food security. Feeding Bristol emerged originally in response to a statement made by the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees when he said publicly “no child should go to school hungry”.
- Feeding Bristol gained charitable status in March 2018, and is chaired by a Board with representatives from local businesses, food charities, local food growers and Bristol City Council.
- In 2018, the Department for Education provided £30,000 to the city, that was used to feed approximately 2,200 children over the holiday period.
- However, in 2019, Bristol did not qualify for any central government funding. Feeding Bristol subsequently launched a city wide appeal for ‘Healthy Holidays’, a holiday hunger programme that was a partnership project, with Bristol City Council committing £25k to the summer food provision, with further contributions provided by city partners.
- Data analysis is ongoing but in partnership with FareShare South West and collaborating with approximately 150 providers of holiday clubs and other community-based activities for children, the ‘Healthy Holiday’s progamme aimed to provide 50,000 nutritious meals to children across the 6 week period. A key success of the project was the partnership and collaboration of the city to deliver the work.
- Feeding Bristol is also a signatory of Bristol City Council’s Children’s Charter  that is a set of pledges made by organisations to set the rights and best interests of children as a priority for decision makers in Bristol. One pledge is that ‘Children live in warm homes and no child is hungry’.
Hannah French, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, on behalf of Bristol City Council
12 September 2019
Policy and Public Affairs Team Website: www.bristol.gov.uk
Bristol City Council; City Hall, College Green, BS1 5TR Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
 One City Plan (January 2019): https://www.bristolonecity.com/wp-content/pdf/BD11190-One-CIty-Plan-web-version.pdf
 UK Sustainable Food City Network http://sustainablefoodcities.org/