The Australian Food Network
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Core Services

Food system transformation consulting – core services

We support government, NGO and private sector clients to transform their food systems through a customised mix of seven core services:

  1. Mapping – analysing datasets (like demographics and healthy food outlets) and using quantitative tools like Geographic Information Systems to understand the challenges and priority needs of your local or regional food system.
  2. Setting the baseline - Establishing the starting point for intervention and identifying the goals, targets and indicators we’ll use to track progress.
  3. Best-practice benchmarking – reviewing Australian and international examples of successful food system interventions to identify options that will work in your context.
  4. Community consultation – creating spaces to actively involve residents, community leaders, your stakeholders and marginalised groups in the design of their food system. We employ a range of methods for meaningful conversations and insightful qualitative research, like Kitchen Table Talks, community workshops and Socratic Circles.
  5. Strategy development - writing your first food system strategy (or strategy refresh) based on the key focus areas uncovered from the mapping and community consultation phases. Ideally, we take this step alongside an internal food systems strategy working group that we help facilitate.
  6. Implementation leadership – to make a difference for local communities, strategies need an Action Plan for lasting and meaningful implementation. Often this includes supporting clients to establish cross-departmental and community leadership groups to own the implementation phase.
  7. Evaluation – Designing and applying a measurement framework - based on our social impact methodology - to monitor progress and embed your impact within broader sustainability frameworks like the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Impact in Action: Council Food Systems Planning Case Studies

  • Urban Food Strategy, Banyule City Council (2022-2023)

    Sustain supported Banyule City Council to deliver its first ever Urban Food Strategy. Working across all seven of our core services, we delivered two stand-out pieces of work to serve as the foundation for the city’s food system transformation:

    • Our largest community and stakeholder consultation to date – reaching 600 people across council staff and through community surveys, pop-up consultation markets, kitchen table talks and focus groups.
    • Forming and facilitating the Banyule Urban Food Strategy Working Group – a tight-knit leadership team drawn from council staff and community leaders to guide the strategy’s development and subsequent implementation.
  • Food Policy Refresh, City of Melbourne (2022-2023)

    This redraft of the City of Melbourne’s food policy included international best-practice benchmarking, a review of the impact of current policies and consultation across the City’s government, academic and community stakeholder groups. The Food Policy report we developed was then stress-tested by an independently run community engagement process, ahead of a review by Councillors and an expected launch in mid-2024.

    Sustain's links to food experts both locally, nationally and internationally supported us to benchmark the original 2012 food policy against other policies, plans and academic literature to better reflect current thinking and opportunities to mitigate issues such as food insecurity, understanding our role in supporting healthy food environments and advocating for the protection of our local and regional food bowl.

    Sustain representatives provided a high quality service that was delivered on time and in a professional manner. This was matched by their extensive knowledge on sustainable food systems and passion to make a difference by empowering communities to understand and care for the ecosystems that support our wellbeing.

    Maria Plakourakis,
    Senior Policy Officer - City Safety,
    Health Promotion and Policy,
    Community Wellbeing,
    City of Melbourne
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