Vegetables arranged in a display of baskets

Project outline

FoodSEqual is a five year research project led by The University of Reading, with four smaller research hubs across the country, including one at The University of Plymouth, led by Dr Clare Pettinger. The vision is to provide citizens of culturally diverse disadvantaged communities with choice and agency over the food they consume, by co-developing new products, new supply chains and new policy frameworks that deliver an affordable, attractive, healthy and sustainable diet.
Previous attempts at transforming the food-health system to become more equitable, sustainable and integrated have had limited impact as they fail to engage communities in the research process and the policy design, leading to compromised knowledge exchange or social innovation. The disconnect between households, communities, national food supply and production networks presents one of the greatest challenges to developing a socially just, healthier, and more sustainable food system for everyone.
FoodSEqual logo
The project brings together academic researchers, food industry representatives, civil organisations and policymakers to reimagine how food policy, food products and food supply chains can be co-developed. The project focuses on working together with communities to jointly imagine new solutions to address a lack of access to healthy and sustainable food.
In Plymouth, we have trained a small team of six community food researchers who are central to our project. These individuals act as co-researchers to support our research activities and extend our social impact.
The FoodSEqual project is part of the Transforming the UK Food System for Health People and a Healthy Environment SPF Programme, which aims to fundamentally transform the UK food system by placing healthy people and a healthy natural environment at its centre.
The Plymouth FoodSEqual project has several strands of work:
  1. FoodSEqual-health: This is an arm of FoodSEqual run by the University of Reading and University of Plymouth. The aim of Fresh Street Community is for everyone regardless of where they live to be able to get good quality, fresh fruit and vegetables. It is a fruit and vegetable voucher scheme research study which aims to assess what is the most effective way to embed the scheme within local food systems in areas of high deprivation in Reading and Plymouth working with local suppliers and community centres. This scheme is currently up and running in Whitleigh and we are working with Tamar Fresh Ltd who are our fruit and vegetable wholesaler supporting the project. 
  2. The Plymouth Fishfinger: In collaboration with the Whitleigh community, Plymouth, fish was identified as a food commodity for possible innovation and development. The FoodSEqual Plymouth team ran 4 interactive workshops to find out if the community wants or needs a new product,  supply chain, or policy around fish. The Plymouth Fishfinger project emerged from these workshops and is a community led pilot project with the aim of co-designing a fishfinger that is both healthy and sustainable - and ensures that local fish remains in the local community – the intention is to try to get this product into the school meal system locally. We are working with Plymouth Fisheries and Seafood Association CIC and Sole of Discretion CIC to deliver this element of FoodSEqual. More info, on the Plymouth Fishfinger.
  3. Community food researchers: Our community food researchers work with the local FoodSEqual team, based at the University of Plymouth and Food Plymouth CIC, to plan and organise various food and community based events and support FoodSEqual research activities, to find out more about what people in Whitleigh are eating or would like to eat. Being a community food researcher within the FoodSEqual project means being part of a bigger change and there is hope and excitement to see what that change will mean for Whitleigh and Plymouth. Find out more about FoodSEqual's work in Whitleigh. The FoodSEqual team have also written a research paper which critically reviews this way of working. 
  4. Synergy project: In 2023, Dr Clare Pettinger won some additional funding from UKRI to co-lead this national project to explore what 'co-production' looks like for food system transformation. Using a range of exploratory creative methods, this project has successfully mapped and curated the evidence of co-production approaches and how they are being used across seven TUKFS projects – view the Synergy project outline. One of the key outputs from this project is a toolkit for use in other co-production projects: 
Access the Synergy project toolkit 
Join us for breakfast
The FoodSEqual Plymouth CFR team hosts regular drop-in breakfast events that are open to all; join us for tea, coffee and a range of homemade breakfast treats:  
Four Greens Community Trust, 
 Whitleigh Green, 
 PL5 4DD 
 Every second Monday of the month, 9:00–11:00
You would be very welcome – please get in touch with us at to find out more.