Creating the country’s most nutritious network

13 December 2016

SBN’s National Good Food Network connects community organisations working on food issues. From a healthier sausage sizzle to improvements in food security, a tasty revolution is just beginning.

The National Good Food Network is part of SBN’s Good Food Nation project. This aims to solve the social and environmental challenges around our food. These include processed food, food insecurity, diabetes, food waste, soil depletion, and more. The goal is that every meal in New Zealand features healthy ingredients produced to high environmental standards.

This requires us to better understand how our food system works. It also means demonstrating what can be done on an everyday level.

In the Far North the District Council and Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisation (PHO) work together on food security and economic development. Together they have created the Kai Ora Fund. This assists projects working on this issue in the region.

Already this helped start the Kaikohe Markets and Co-op and provided sustainable gardening training in Kerikeri and Rawene.

In 2016 it has supported another 12 community led projects. A community orchard planted on vacant land in Te Kao. Organic community gardens in Kohukohu. A travelling food truck teaching communities about healthy kai.

Applications for the fund open again in February 2017.

Healthy Families groups feature prominently in the National Good Food Network. The Lower Hutt branch is taking a ‘systems’ approach to change social norms around food in their area. A street level example of this is supporting a local supermarket owner who is offering low cost, convenient and healthy lunch options. He is also taking a ‘pro-water’ approach to how he stocks and places his drink offerings.

In Christchurch Healthy Families led a hui with the Heart Foundation and local education representatives. This encouraged a ‘water only’ policy for drinks in schools. Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura is working with Auckland Council. Council leisure centres have removed sugar-sweetened drinks from their vending machines.

In Invercargill Healthy Families is working with Windsor North School and a local budget store. They have applied innovative health thinking to the traditional sausage sizzle. This has created The Choice As Sizzle. This recommends switching the bread from white to grainy, ditching the spread, swapping the sauce to a low sugar, low salt option and adding some veg like onions, coleslaw or spinach. The concept has been trialled at several Sport Southland events, junior club rugby days and community events.

Emily Dowding-Smith, project leader, says: “There are a lot of community organisations out there doing amazing work. They haven’t all been connected into a network before. This is providing new opportunities for them to share ideas and inspire each other.

“Importantly, it also allows us to take a national view on our food system and how we would like it to change. All that combined with great on the ground actions like these will make it possible for New Zealand to develop the kind of relationship to food that we all want.”

Good Food Nation is looking for businesses to get involved and to come up with more solutions to these issues. Are you part of a local organisation working on food issues? Do you have a business that would like to support this work? To find out more contact emily@sustainable.org.nz or call 027 813 0000