IFSTAL welcomes support for systems thinking in National Food Strategy

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Food systems academics and trainers from IFSTAL have welcomed a call for ‘systems thinking’ in the newly launched National Food Strategy, led by food business leader Henry Dimbleby.

The report, which devotes a chapter to the complexities, dynamics and challenges of the food system, also highlights the importance of considering feedbacks in food system planning.

IFSTAL is a free-to-attend teaching programme that aims to address the urgent need for a food sector workforce equipped with the skills to navigate such complexities and collaborate more effectively across the food system. The programme is currently a collaboration between the University of Oxford, University of Warwick, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Dr John Ingram, lead academic for the IFSTAL teaching programme, welcomes the inclusion of the ‘food systems’ concept. “IFSTAL was launched in 2015 to address the systemic failings of the system food that are highlighted in this new report, such as dietary-related diseases and environmental degradation,” he said. “We have always aimed to equip IFSTAL students with the tools to become food system thinkers so they can skilfully collaborate with others from different parts of the food system.”

Among the report’s other recommendations are the introduction of a sugar and salt reformulation tax, mandatory reporting for large food companies, extended eligibility for free school meals and a £1 billion investment in innovation to create a better food system.

The National Food Strategy is an independent review commissioned by government to set out a vision and a plan for a better food system. View the full report here.

Notes to editors: 

  • With over 1,800 students engaged to date, IFSTAL’s alumni network is already having an influence as former students take on roles in the global food system. 
  • The programme has also delivered food systems training in Australia, Canada, Ghana, Fiji, Indonesia, Uganda, USA and Vanuatu.