Healthy Start

There have been a number of changes this year to the Healthy Start Scheme , with some more to come in 2021. In April, legislation changed therefore the need for a health professional signature, in Part B of the form, is no longer required. The form can simply be signed by the person applying and posted off.

From the 1st October vouchers can also be spent on pulses, this means any kind of fresh, dried and tinned pulses, including but not limited to lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas but not those to which fat, salt and sugar or flavouring have been added. Tinned fruit, in its own juice or water and tinned vegetables, in water, have also been added to the list.

This is in addition to the foods originally part of the scheme: fruit and vegetables (fresh& frozen), cow’s milk and infant formula milk that can be used from birth.

We will keep you updated with further developments in the scheme as they happen.

Please find details here.

The Healthy Start Campaign page is here.

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Leeds Food Policy Brief

On 22nd of September, Tom Bliss and Sonja Woodcock from FoodWise Leeds (also Feed Leeds), together with Dr Paola Sakai (University of Leeds) and Andy Goldring (Permaculture Assn), submitted a Policy Brief to the Climate Emergency Advisory Committee of Leeds City Council. The brief was informed by two workshops initiated by Tom and Paola as members of The Leeds Climate Commission Resilience Working Group. The first, “Enabling a climate resilient food system in Leeds that promotes health, sustainability and food security”, took place in December 2019. It was hosted by LCC Leader Cllr Judith Blake and Professor Tim Benton of UoL and Chatham House and facilitated by Andy Goldring. The second ”A pathway for a climate-resilient, healthy and sustainable Leeds Food System”, also facilitated by Andy, took place in September 2020. Both workshops built on previous research by Feed Leeds, FoodWise Leeds and the Permaculture Association. The brief was well-received, and follow-up meetings are on-going, with further workshops planned.

The Policy Brief can be downloaded here – with further information on our Research page.

video of the presentation can be viewed here (the item begins after one hour):

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Leeds Cookery School Ready to Go!

Today the Leeds Cookery School ran a test session prior to reopening for classes next week. As a member of staff I was invited to attend the session as they ran through all the social distancing measures that have been put in place. Individual work stations have been clearly laid out and the cookery staff were separated via counters and workstations. Despite the social distancing measures, the chefs were able to clearly demonstrate the cooking techniques and created an enjoyable and interactive experience. They’ve clearly put a lot of thought into this and it worked really well.

Today we made two delicious vegan curry dishes: aubergine dhansak and spinach, chickpea and potato curry. All the ingredients were beautifully set out on trays at each station, and we each worked with our own equipment. The chefs shared lots of tips and information about the ingredients and It was a really enjoyable class and I’m looking forward to dinner tonight!

The Leeds Cookery School reopens next week. Be sure to book on to one of their many classes.

All profits go to support Zest Leeds, a local charity supporting people living in disadvantaged areas of Leeds.

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Being Food Wise Campaign – June and July 2020

food rainbow SHBeing Food Wise campaign launched…..

Since the  lockdown was announced to control the spread of Covid-19, almost everyone in the UK has experienced some effect on what and how they eat. Restaurants have closed and free time at home has increased. Meanwhile, many people have less money to spend after losing income, and some foods have become harder to find in shops due to stockpiling and stretched supply. In response to some of the local challenges people in Leeds are experiencing when eating, cooking and shopping the “Being Food Wise” campaign has been launched to get people talking, sharing and to provide support to help us all eat, cook and shop well! For more information on the campaign visit the Being Food Wise tab.

Working together we can help Leeds – Be Food Wise!

Food Wise Leeds campaigns brief FINAL

Food Wise campaign messages FINAL

Join us in offering your support!

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#Vegrocks Poster Competition Winners

Today Growing Better CIC are delivering 50 vegboxes to the winners of the #Vegrocks Poster Competition.

The #Vegrocks Poster Competition is part of our Veg Cities campaign to increase the growing, sale and consumption of vegetables. FoodWise and Zest delivered the competition as a fun and creative activity for families during lockdown that celebrates the benefits of vegetables.

Thanks to the generosity of local Councillors in Gipton & Harehills, Bramley & Stanningley, Farnley & Wortley, Alwoodley and Chapel Allerton for sponsoring additional vegbox prizes for their wards, FoodWise was able to award 50 prizes.

We would like to thank everyone who entered their veg-tastic creations – they were amazing!

We hope the winners enjoy their amazing vegboxes and have a go at growing some microgreens from Growing Better. Each box also contains a copy of the locally produced ‘Cooking on a Shoestring’ recipe book and a painted #vegrock.

Growing Better vegboxes for the #Vegrocks winners
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Enter the #Vegrocks Poster Competition!


Are you looking for a new lockdown boredom buster?

The #Vegrocks Poster Competition is a great way for families to get creative, have fun with veg and WIN prizes!

The #Vegrocks Poster Competition is part of FoodWise Leeds campaign to ‘get Leeds eating and growing more veg’. There’s never been a better time start eating more vegetables for all the health and environmental benefits.

The #Vegrocks Poster Competition runs from 20 April – 11 May

To enter the competition:
1. Draw or paint a poster of your favourite vegetable – add a face, name, hat or curly  hair
2. Send a photo of your #vegrocks poster to including your name, age and address
3. Display your #vegrocks poster in your window alongside your NHS rainbow – create a trail of veg in your community!
4. Share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tagging @foodwiseleeds and @zestleeds using the hashtag #vegrocks
5. Win a vegbox for your family and a microgreens growing kit from Growing Better CIC
Prizes will be awarded in three age categories (6 and under; 7-12 and 13+)
6. Sponsor a vegbox prize for your ward, organization or community – get in touch!

For more information contact

#veg rocks - COMP

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Meanwood Valley Urban Farm needs your help!

It goes without saying that we’re all living through extraordinary and troubling times and unfortunately, I’m afraid that Meanwood Valley Urban Farm is going to struggle to get through this. We are seeking your help to make sure we can open our gates again when this crisis is over.

We’ve had to close to all our visitors and we can no longer host the 50 sessions for vulnerable adults or the outdoor activities for around 150 local school kids each week. This all means a huge and unprecedented loss of income.

We’ve launched a fundraising appeal to help us steer the Farm through the crisis. In our 40th year, we had big plans to celebrate our big birthday with you all. And with a little help, I hope we still can. We realise it’s a hard time for many people, so any donation you can give would be hugely appreciated.

While we’re closed to visitors and participants; life on the Farm goes on. I’m so proud of the staff and volunteers who are still working daily to look after the animals, including our new lambs and chicks, growing food in our market garden and keeping the site safe. We’ll continue to look after the Farm and all of the animals throughout this, in line with public health guidance.

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that we can all come together very soon at the Farm to celebrate its 40th year.

Many thanks.

Adam Ogilvie

CEO – Meanwood Valley Urban Farm

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Food Security and covid-19

Professor Les Firbank of FoodWise Leeds has just posted this blog –

“One proposed solution is the re-localisation of food supply chains. This can easily sound like a return to digging for victory, the re-focussing on local food. But local food production is suffering from climate change now…”

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National Food Strategy

From SFC:

Terms of Reference for a National Food Strategy were published today, setting out the ambition for a better food system in England. The process is being led by Defra, involving government departments that deal with public health and the UK’s industrial strategy. The Terms of Reference state that:

  • “Delivers safe, healthy, affordable food, regardless of where people live or how much they earn;
  • Is robust in the face of future shocks;
  • Restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation;
  • Is built upon a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector;
  • Is a thriving contributor to our urban and rural economies, delivering well paid jobs and supporting innovative producers and manufacturers;
  • Does all of this in an efficient and cost-effective way.”

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of the Sustain food and farming alliance said:

“A National Food Strategy could play a pivotal role in delivering sustainably produced and healthy food for everyone, as well as better livelihoods in food production. It could also support the transition to environmentally friendly farming and fishing that are now imperative. We are excited about the ideas, collaboration and optimism that the Food Strategy has already started to generate and look forward to taking part.”

The Sustainable Food Cities Network welcomes this announcement and is keen to take part and engage its members in this process which has been one of its long-standing requests.

We are in contact with Defra and will be communicating on ways SFC members can input into the National Food Strategy consultations.

We are also keeping a close eye on other national food strategy developments underway in Scotland as part of the Good Food Nation; and in Wales as part of a wide range of work on food and farming policy, including the Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales initiative; the Welsh Food and Drink (industry) strategy; and the Brexit and Our Land consultation, which enters its second phase in July 2019.

More information on the National Food Strategy, and sign up to get involved.

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Leeds Wins the Bronze!

Here is the press release:

Bronze Birthday Present for Leeds Food Partnership

After just one year, the Leeds Food Partnership (LFP) is celebrating winning a prestigious accolade, The Sustainable Food Cities Bronze award.

Set up in 2018, the partnership celebrates good food and helps address health inequalities by reducing food poverty, supporting local food businesses, reducing the environmental impact of food, influencing the trade and consumption of food and promoting growing and cooking skills.

The LFP is delivered by Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds, and a range of local food networks, businesses, NGOs and community partners.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“This is a great recognition for a really important cross-sector partnership of public agencies, businesses, and academics in Leeds, helping us agree a city vision for food and develop a food action plan which doesn’t just improve nutrition, but also builds into our vision of a more sustainable environment and climate.

“We’re working hard to make it easier for people in Leeds to have access to healthier food which doesn’t cost the earth, so they can benefit from the benefit of better nutrition.”

Sonja Woodcock, Sustainable Food Cities Co-ordinator, said:

“The partnership is raising the profile and exploring solutions to food issues, including promoting healthy and sustainable food, tackling food poverty, diet-related ill health and access to affordable healthy food and building community food knowledge, skills, resources and projects.

“Working together we’re keen to promote a vibrant, diverse and sustainable food economy, while helping transform catering and food procurement, reducing both waste and the ecological footprint of the food system.”

Professor Les Firbank, University of Leeds, said:

“Food is both at the core of some of the city’s biggest challenges, but also a vital part of solutions. The evidence-based, partnership approach recognises food action is needed and we are glad to be working alongside partners to help make the most of this.

“The LFP is just one of a range of positive health and nutrition areas of work across the city which is attracting attention for delivering positive outcomes. The award will help us to target obesity, other diet-related ill-health, nutritional care, poverty and waste; promote businesses, innovation, and food tourism, as well as linking to climate change, urban sustainability and public safety.”

Tom Bliss, Chair of Feed Leeds, said:

“It’s been a long journey since Feed Leeds, which represents community food growing across the city, kick-started the creation of the LFP back in 2012, and we’re hugely proud and delighted to see Leeds rightfully recognised as a leading Food City. But we’re not resting on our laurels! We’re confident that Leeds is already a long way towards Silver – so watch this space!”

Sustainable Food Cities is a nation-wide initiative which promotes cross-sector partnerships of local public agencies, businesses, academics and NGOs who are committed to working together to make healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where they live. The Sustainable Food Cities Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the success of those places taking a joined up, holistic approach to food, and that are achieving significant positive change on a range of key food issues.

Key Project areas:

The recently launched “Food Wise Leeds” campaign, promoting food action in the city.

The Refill campaign – a grassroots movement which aims to reduce plastic pollution at source by making it easier for people to reuse and refill their bottle with free tap water, rather than buying a new one.

The Sustainable Fish Cities pledge organised by conservation and sustainable food organisations. The pledge encourages buying, serving and promoting only sustainable fish.

The national Out to Lunch campaign led by the Soil Association aims to make it easier for families to eat healthy food outside of the home in restaurants and visitor attractions.

Increasing vegetable consumption, with The Soil Association’s Veg Cities campaign and the new Veg Power “Eat them to defeat them” advertising aim to increase vegetable consumption nationally.

Leeds Rotters – a city-wide composting initiative.

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