Blackburn with Darwen Food Alliance

Sneak peak at the keynote topics

What happens when a community comes together to learn, share and network around food? An amazing day is had by all, connections are made and people leave feeling inspired. Leader of the Council Councillor Phil Riley in his welcome address set out a vision for the development of a good food movement within the Borough which fits in with the forward thinking, entrepreneurial approach of the Council and its commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to good food. What a great start to the day!

The Keynote Speakers

Leon Ballin, lead for the national programme for Sustainable Food Places, highlighted the challenge of ensuring that everyone has access to good food which is produced sustainably within the context of the current cost of living challenges. He outlined the role that food partnerships like ours have to play in this and provided insights into the work being done by around the country to make this a reality.

Reducing food waste is a key issue in Blackburn with Darwen given that we currently throw away over 5,000 tonnes of edible food each year. Sarah Ottaway, the Sustainability and Social Value Lead for Suez, gave some mind blowing figures of how food waste translates on a global level and the things we can do to reduce this. “A third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted every year whilst 925 million people globally are suffering from hunger. If we reduced food waste by just 25% we would have enough food to feed 500 million people”.

We were so pleased when Sheila Dillon, food journalist and presenter of the Radio 4 Food Programme, accepted our invitation to give the inaugural BwD Food Alliance Presentation. In a very thought provoking talk she described, amongst other things,  the evolution of our current food system and the ways in which our increased reliance on a small number of supermarket chains has impacted on our health, farming and agriculture and the environment.

Our final keynote speaker was Tim Radcliffe, Net Zero Food Programme Manager for NHS England who outlined the work that is being done in the NHS towards becoming net zero by reducing food waste whilst offering lower carbon healthier meals. Tim provided some great examples of research being undertaken to ensure that patients eat more of the food served to them. Who would have thought that slightly smaller portions actually encourages people to eat more and the same is true for serving the food on plates more like we have at home.

There was so much more happening throughout the day so keep an eye on our social media channels for more conference ‘bites’.