How Melbourne is Becoming a Sustainable, Thriving Food City

Policies are changing the way Melbourne, Australia plans for the future of their food. (Shutterstock)

Priding itself in being renowned in diverse and multicultural food traditions and cuisine, Melbourne, Australia is recognizing the impact food has on the health and well-being of its community and is committed to promoting a healthy food system. A food system includes all the activities involved with production, processing, transportation, and consumption of food. The City of Melbourne not only wants a secure and healthy food system, but one that is also sustainable, thriving, and socially inclusive. With 40 percent of household rubbish coming from food waste, Melbourne is determined to make positive changes that benefit the environment and its citizens. 

As part of their goal to improve the health and well-being of their citizens as well as domestic and international visitors, they have created a policy called Food City. Basically, Food City will implement guidelines and policies to improve Melbourne’s food system. Food City focuses on education and community development; leadership and advocacy; building and strengthening partnerships; regulation and infrastructure management; and research. Within these roles, they have developed five key themes and actions to meet their ambitions. The themes are as follows:

A strong, food-secure community: Food City will establish a food policy committee and create opportunities for all people to learn how to grow, cook, and eat good food.

Healthy food choices for all: It will find ways to improve accessibility of resources to businesses and community groups around food and will help develop procurement standards.

A sustainable and resilient food system: The policy will implement ways to educate the public about how to reduce food waste as well as the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food consumption.

A thriving local food economy: Food City will work with existing businesses, such as Queen Victoria Market, to promote the availability of healthy food choices.

A city that celebrates food: Melbourne will celebrate and encourage eating indigenous and culturally diverse food as well as sharing of food (i.e., community kitchens).

The policy will be implemented through an action plan and undergo regular review to evaluate the themes. Outcomes and progress will be reported to the Melbourne City Council as well as community members. Some of the activities which Food City has already incorporated are launching Green Light, Eat Right, which is criteria in the form of a traffic light which helps consumers make smarter and healthier food choices; developing a food forum at a local festival event; and supporting Grow It Local, which brings together people who grow food locally within the country. "Working with local government is key to creating a sustainable public health nutrition program. The green light, eat right program is a simple way of enabling consumers to make healthy choices when dining out," said Green Light, Eat Right program, Dietitian and Project Manager, Nerida Clarke. 

Sonal Choudhary is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist working for Sodexo. She is pursuing her Masters in Public Health at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois.

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