Officer: Guy Van Dichele
Key decision: no
The Director of Public Health presented her fourth annual report to Cabinet on the topic of Food. It was the ambition that all residents had access to good quality food no matter how much they earnt or where they lived.
It was noted that a recent survey had found that 60% of respondents experienced food insecurity. Additionally 20% of children in Croydon received free school meals, whilst the average family wasted around £800 of food annually. In response to these concerns the Director of Public Health outlined six key recommendations which would combat these concerns. Recommendations included mandatory food labelling which would help residents understand what it was they were eating and the ‘Croydon Plate’.
The recommendation of the ‘Croydon Plate’ was in response to most people’s plates being 3 inches larger than they were in the 1960s which encourage people to have a larger portion size than necessary. As such, it was recommended that 9 inch plates become the norm again to support healthy eating.
To support and encourage healthy eating, a digital platform had been launched which provided helpful information on how to eat more healthily.
The Cabinet Member for Families, Health & Social Care thanked the Director of Public Health for the report and recommendations. It was noted that there were a lot of agencies who needed to work together to improve access to healthy food; such as the council, Mayor of London, food agencies and central government.
The Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Board noted the work which had been done to support understanding of healthy eating among the BAME community. The Good Food Matters programme was highlighted for its work with families within New Addington to support them to cook healthy and tasty food and grow their own food, where possible.
Members welcomed the report and noted that a number of the changes required, which were outlined, within the report would take time as it required a change in mind-set but that it was important that all involved supported this change. It was recognised that part of the change would involve education at a young age which made healthy eating and growing food fun; as such Members suggested support for edible playground across the borough.
The importance of appropriate portion sizes was recognised and it was stated that, particularly in terms of fast food, it would be important for the council to have more powers to encourage fast food outlets to serve more healthy options.
Members recognised that some families struggled to afford to fill nine inch plates and that it was important to tackle food poverty also. Croydon continued to work on this area and the Cabinet Member for Homes & Gateway Services noted that the council had been awarded for their work to tackle food poverty though the implementation of an action plan, supporting and promoting the uptake of breast feeding and free school meals, increasing support and access to food during school holidays and increasing the uptake of healthy start vouchers amongst other actions.
The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning further noted that for some families a fast food meal was their only meal for the day and so it would be a matter of balancing any size reduction on ensuring people were eating. The Cabinet Member stated that it was important that all responsible parties supported initiatives which provided children with healthy meals when they were hungry, such as providing bowls of porridge as schools, and supermarkets ensuring that vegetables were affordable so that families did not see fast food as their only option.
The Leader of the Council delegated authority to the Cabinet to make the following decisions:
1. Note the information and recommendations outlined in the Annual Director of Public Health Report (at Appendix 1 of the report); and
2. Approve the publication of the Annual Director of Public Health Report.