Nutrition Smart Cities: ‘BINDI’ Birmingham India Nutrition Initiative

The Food Foundation facilitated a learning partnership between Birmingham, UK and Pune, India which involved the development of policies and practices as part of a ‘Food Smart City’ initiative. Food Smart Cities use data and technology to change the way that food is produced, processed, distributed and consumed. Birmingham and Pune have a common ambition to seize opportunities to support safer, healthier and more sustainable city food environments which prevent malnutrition in all its forms (overweight, obesity, micronutrient deficiencies and undernutrition). The focus of the partnership is on policies regarding food prepared out of the home – to encourage that food which is available and promoted is safe, nutritious, affordable and procured in a manner which supports environmental sustainability and local economic development.

Case study report of smart food and nutrition initiatives 

The partnership was launched through events in Birmingham and Pune. In the first 18-month phase, the Food Foundation worked with local authorities in both cities to design the partnership, based on citizen engagement and evidence from elsewhere around the globe. We produced Situational Analysis Reports for both Birmingham and Pune which compiled secondary data on the nutrition situation in both cities to inform the partnership. We also produced a Case Study Report of other smart food and nutrition initiatives which have taken place elsewhere to inspire the local authorities in Birmingham and Pune.

Citizen engagement to inform city led food strategy

Last year (2019) we began implementing citizen engagement plans to understand households’ out of home eating behaviours and the extent to which they support healthy or unhealthy diets. In Pune a household food survey was conducted with over 3,000 adult citizens . Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Auxiliary Nurses were trained by researchers at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. The main findings from the survey which explored eating habits, understanding of healthy food and policy changes showed that citizens need help to secure healthier diets.

Birmingham also began citizen engagement activities in 2019, to consult people on the development of their food strategy. The launch of the Birmingham Food Conversation was also used as the launch of the National Food Conversation as England began work to prepare for the National Food Strategy. The city produced a video to encourage people to respond to an online survey on their food choices and also commissioned food focus groups. This work was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other engagement methods have since been explored.

To find out more about the methods used visit Public Engagement on the Food Cities 2022 Learning Platform

Responding to the COVID-19 emergency

Both cities shared a similar approach when responding to the COVID-19 emergency. Case studies and videos have been produced highlighting partnerships with the voluntary sector to ensure emergency food aid was delivered to communities and families in need. As both Birmingham and Pune are MUFPP signatory cities, the videos have been featured as part of ‘Milan Pact Talks’ sharing practices from across the world.

To read case studies and view videos of the cities response visit  Covid-19 on the Food Cities 2022 Learning Platform

Expanding the learning Partnership

The BINDI initiative was funded by the Tata Trusts and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through its Maximising the Quality of Scaling Up Nutrition Plus (MQSUN+) project. MQSUN+ provides technical expertise in multisectoral nutrition policy and programming to DFID and Scaling Up Nutrition countries.

The Food Foundation secured additional funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to expand this partnership as part of their Global Food System project. The Food Cities 2022 initiative will be launched in January 2021 and a learning platform is being developed to share resources produced through BINDI as well as present additional resources to support those developing food policies/strategies.