Image of market stall showing vegetables

On Tuesday 14 June, the Good Food Nation Bill passed in Scotland, continuing the Scottish Government’s commitment to ‘Becoming a Good Food Nation’ a policy which was set in 2014. However, it falls short of the Scottish Food Coalition’s campaign for a stronger Bill - which they said needed to take a ‘whole systems approach’.

The Bill, as it passed, has both a national and local requirement to consider the food system. The Scottish government, local governments, and health boards must write and consult on a plan for Scotland’s food system every five years. Local authorities and health boards must also produce local food plans for the areas they oversee.

Environmental concerns, access to healthy food, and the role of food production in the national economy are all highlighted as important aspects of being a ‘Good Food Nation’. However, the Scottish Food Coalition has called for a whole systems approach that looks beyond the food people are eating and more at how the food is sourced, distribution, regulations, and workers’ rights. A report published by the Scottish Food Coalition highlights several areas where the current food system is not effectively delivering.

Our town also has a high level of deprivation and we are seeing more people struggling to afford the basics.

The Vale of Leven Trust

Sustainable access to affordable and nutritional food is an important social determinant of health. Poor diet is the leading cause of bad health, and accounts for many more deaths than alcohol and drug abuse.

Healthy food is harder to find if you live in an area experiencing disadvantage and healthy food is, for many people, out of reach financially. The poorest fifth of UK households would need to spend 40 per cent of their disposable income on food to meet the UK government’s Eatwell Guide costs. This compares to just 7 per cent for the richest fifth of households.

For people in households with the lowest incomes, food insecurity can mean not being able to afford food at all. The Scottish Health Survey reported that in August/ September 2020, two per cent of people interviewed said that they had run out of food due to lack of money or other resources, with younger adults and single parents more likely to be affected. The cost of living crisis is making it even more difficult for people on the lowest incomes.

Our funded partner Alexandria Craft & Produce Market, run by The Vale of Leven Trust in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire is concerned about rising food insecurity:

“Access to healthy, affordable food is a real issue in our town. There are lots of cheap takeaways on the high street but not many options to get nutritional local produce. Our town also has a high level of deprivation and we are seeing more people struggling to afford the basics. Decision makers should be focused on addressing this poverty and lack of local choice to start with if they want to improve health.”

The Scottish Food Coalition has called for a ‘Right to Food’ to reduce food insecurity and focus on producing food in ways that are sustainable. They’ve also called for an independent body to oversee the Good Food Nation plans so that the whole picture can be viewed without political pressure.

Whilst the Bill has now passed, the work to tackle food insecurity remains a high priority for those in communities experiencing the highest levels of disadvantage