Time to tackle food inequality.

Lucy Bywater and Ben Foley at The Community Larder on North Parade where each are regular volunteers.

Green Councillor Lucy Bywater got Bedford Borough Council to agree on Wednesday, December 2, to take a strategic approach to food, prompted by the food inequalities highlighted by the pandemic.

Cllr Bywater’s motion pointed out that in Bedford, 20.2% of children in Year 6 are classified as obese, higher than the average for England and that poor nutrition leading to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay is closely linked to areas of greater deprivation.

Lucy said “While the council’s public health team were working hard on this (before Covid19 understandably took most of their time), access to a healthy diet and its critical importance for long-term health of the borough must be something for all of the council to work on.

She said, “The Government wants to halve childhood obesity by 2030 and that will be challenging because of the complex issues related to poverty and inequality, education and even the built environment. With more joined up thinking and creative partnership working, there’s a lot more we can do as an authority to address the links between food inequalities, poor health and environmental sustainability together.”

Cllr Bywater first  thanked the huge commitment since the pandemic of the very many charities and community volunteers as well as the council’s Community Hub to help get fresh food and other essentials to those most in need. She also acknowledged the ongoing hard work of the council’s public health team.

This first Green Party motion, which got cross-party support, calls for the council to develop a collaborative Food Strategy that includes key issues aspects around local growing, reducing food waste, food preparation and composting.  

The motion says “Access to high quality, affordable, nutritious food should be a right of all Bedford residents”.

Lucy said “Hopefully, with this strategy, we can make that happen over the next few years. It’s probably never been more important for the borough to be resilient and help local people towards improved health.”

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