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About us

Our past

Community Food and Health (Scotland) was established, originally under the name Scottish Community Diet Project, as a result of recommendations contained in the 1996 ground-breaking government strategy “Eating for Health: A Diet Action Plan for Scotland”. The task identified was the need to ‘promote and focus dietary initiatives in low-income communities and bring these within a strategic format’.

We pursued this aim by ensuring the experience, understanding, and learning from local communities informs policy development and delivery. Communities, planners and policy makers are encouraged and enabled to constructively engage with each other in addressing inequalities in food and health.

CFHS worked with both geographical communities (eg. neighbourhoods, villages) and communities of common interest (eg. users of mental health services, travellers), the common feature being that the work is focused on those communities that suffer disadvantage and would benefit most.

CFHS ran programmes of work around information, engagement, practice development, capacity building, inclusion and impact, within an approach that has recently been referred to as an assets-based approach; in other words, where local communities are seen as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. This website provides a wealth of resources from this period of our work.

CFHS was funded directly through the Scottish Government. In April 2013 it became part of NHS Health Scotland, following 16 years as part of Consumer Focus Scotland, formerly the Scottish Consumer Council. On 1 April 2020, NHS Health Scotland, after 17 years has now merged with Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division – to form Public Health Scotland – Scotland’s lead agency for improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of all of Scotland’s people. CFHS programme staff are now part of the PHS Diet, Physical Activity and Healthy Weight team.

Our aim remains as it was in 1996 – to ensure that everyone in Scotland has the opportunity, ability and confidence to access a healthy and acceptable diet for themselves, their families and their communities.

Our current work

CFHS programme staff, as part of Public Health Scotland are working with the Scottish Government and community food networks as part of the Community Food National Reference group to plan how the community food sector can be supported in the future.  As well as PHS, the current members of this group are:

The reference group has a set of Community Food National Reference Group Values and Principles Nov 2022 to guide its work.

The aim of the Community Food National Reference Group is to support a stronger community food sector in order to tackle health inequalities and poverty.  The group’s current focused work hopes to achieve this aim by supporting:

  • Increased (local and national) collaboration between relevant agencies and the community food sector
  • Improving practice and building capacity within the community food sector on all three of these priority areas:
    • Providing pathways out of poverty and supporting ‘cash first’ approaches
    • Supporting the social aspects of, and take up of sustainable, nutritious food
    • Ensuring quality, affordable, nutritious food is available for community organisations

We are currently planning to support 3 or 4 pilot collaborative projects across Scotland to progress this work. We also plan to share practice through webinars, our regular e-bulletin and information on this website.