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New strategy to make Oxfordshire's food system 'more sustainable and affordable'

Oxfordshire has become one of the first areas in the country to adopt a local food strategy.

Action plans are being drawn up to strengthen the local food system and make the county healthier.

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis means local households are facing an average hit of £1,200 to their incomes this year alone, according to Oxfordshire County Council.

Working with farmers, community groups and food businesses - Oxfordshire's councils have come up with priority areas to tackle and a new Food Strategy will be adopted in coming months.

It includes pledges to support communities to grow, cook and enjoy food together, to better understand the challenges of school meals, to tackle food poverty and strengthen local food supply chains.

According to Oxfordshire's Cabinet Member for Public Health, just 1% of food in Oxford comes directly from a local source.

Councillor Mark Lygo says money spent in local food shops, cafes and production 'supports three times as many jobs as the same equivalent spent in national chains.'

He said: "Food production plays a vital role in our local economy. Our food economy accounts for one in 10 jobs, and is responsible for 10% of our local economy as a whole.

"A local food strategy will help us develop a localised, sustainable food system. This will help ensure that healthy and sustainable food is affordable and accessible for everyone, help to meet our climate and sustainability targets and improve our food supply resilience. 

"We are proud to be leading the way in becoming one of the first local authorities in England to implement a local food strategy, and this is central to our key priority of tackling inequality across the county. We couldn't have done this without partnership working so I am really proud that this strategy has been developed with Good Food Oxfordshire and city/district partners"

In 2021 the National Food Strategy stressed the need for local areas to develop their own localised food strategies to tackle the ongoing fragility of food systems in the UK, affordability and the environmental and health impacts of the food we eat.

The proposed new strategy has been developed in partnership with organisations including Good Food Oxfordshire.

Fiona Steel from the organisation said: "We are delighted that our local councils have embraced the food strategy and are committed to improving our local food systems.

"Across Oxfordshire we have an amazing array of community groups, growers and other food businesses, who are committed to a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system for Oxfordshire. We have a long way to go but we are already pointing in the right direction and working together we can make a real and lasting difference."

The plans will be going to the council's cabinet for approval on 24 May. 


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