Supporting local food systems has been shown to enhance the health and wellbeing of communities, improve the availability of and access to nutritious food, strengthen the local economy, and revitalise urban and natural environments.
Every person in the community is impacted by our food system on one level or another. In 2019 the City of Greater Bendigo and local food system stakeholders investigated whether their local food system was healthy and meeting the needs of the community. Unfortunately, they found high rates of overweight and obesity and food insecurity in the community and that residents were not consuming enough fruit and vegetables each day.
That’s why the City of Greater Bendigo led the development of the Greater Bendigo’s Food System Strategy 2020-2030, in partnership with multiple organisations, businesses and community groups. Over 30 organisations and groups have committed to either lead or support key actions listed within the 10-year Strategy Action Plan (see Appendix 1, pg. 28). Working together towards a common aim will ensure that, while individual actions and efforts may be limited, the collective impact will be maximised.
Over 1000 community members and stakeholders were engaged to inform the Food System Strategy using a combination of online surveys, face-to-face meetings and workshops, telephone interviews, listening posts, engagement stalls, focus groups and community sessions. The great response from community and key food system stakeholders throughout this period has also helped to build local ownership of the strategy.
The vision of the Strategy is that Greater Bendigo’s food system is healthy, equitable and sustainable and supports the local economy, culture and health and wellbeing of our communities. The Strategy is the first of its kind for the Greater Bendigo region and supports new and existing work such as the Bendigo UNESCO Creative City and region of Gastronomy, and the Healthy Greater Bendigo movement.
The Strategy focuses on four key objectives, including:
- Supporting food security
- Strengthening and supporting our local food economy
- Supporting local food systems knowledge, skills and culture
- Reducing and diverting food waste from landfill.
Check out the video that has been developed here.
After public exhibition for community and stakeholders to provide comment on the draft Strategy and Action Plan, the Strategy was endorsed by the Greater Bendigo City Council in June 2020. Impacts to be monitored through an evaluation plan and progress and impacts will be reported through an Annual Report against the Action Plan at the end of each financial year and made publicly available.
If you live in Greater Bendigo, consider how you could get involved in the Strategy implementation. If you are outside the area, how could you advocate for your organisation to support the food system in your local area?
For further information visit the website.