Producing the Goods 2
Miles Platting Food Project, Manchester
In Manchester in 2003, the City Council worked with local health authorities, government agencies and community groups, to draw up an ambitious Food Strategy. This aimed to achieve a healthier population, a much-reduced ecological impact of the global food system, and better competitive opportunities for smaller and regional food businesses.
Now, as part of the realisation of some of the health objectives in the strategy, the City Council is working closely with North Manchester Primary Care Trust (PCT), a local Healthy Living Centre called Zest, and the citizen-run Manchester Environmental Resource Centre. Focussing on Miles Platting ward, a recognised 'food desert' about a mile north east of the Victorian Gothic Town Hall, the Council has initiated the Miles Platting Food Project. This will lead to the provision of a new fresh food market in the neighbourhood. Miles Platting life expectancy statistics speak for themselves - 70.2 years for men and 76.6 years for women, against the England average of 75 years for men and 80 years for women. Opportunities to buy fresh produce, especially affordably priced fruits and vegetables, are limited in Miles Platting. Few specialist shops exist and fresh produce is sometimes a risky business for people needing to fill stomachs without good cooking skills. This is no foody contrivance - reams of academic and expert reports reflect that if you are poor, the chances are that you eat a less balanced diet, and around a third of premature deaths from cancer and heart disease are diet-related.
So while the officials translate these concerns into jargon for Councillors, (impacts on Local Public Service Agreement (PSA) Targets by reducing health inequalities…) they are also looking forward to the potential the market will have for bringing people together, physically and socially, based on previous experiences at other Manchester street markets.
The project objectives are:
To produce a food/diet research questionnaire that can be used in all wards, so ensuring consistency of approach and comparable data
To identify demand for access to fresh food within Miles Platting
To identify demand for access to information on diet/healthy cooking/eating within Miles Platting
To pilot the development of a market (initially for six months, starting April 2006) that provides access to food and dietary information. The market will be open at least a day a week from 10am - 4pm and foods other than fresh produce will be sold in order to widen appeal and increase footfall
To monitor and evaluate the project in terms of cost, uptake, success of marketing and PR, customer satisfaction and viability
To produce a written evaluation of the project
This is a short-term project required external investment to enable the marketing/evaluation plan to be completed. Manchester Markets will provide all other investment with regards to the establishment of the market and the creation of the required infrastructure.
Krys Zasada, Head of Markets, Manchester City Council
email - k.zasada [at] manchester.gov.uk