Green Jobs: what does a Sustainable Food Campaigner do?
If you’re looking for a job where you can make changes for the better in the food industry, you should consider a Sustainable Food Campaigner career. This role allows you to build the voice of a charity or NGO and influence changes in food and agricultural policy.
The title of the role may vary depending on where you apply – similar jobs may also be called Head of Policy and Campaigns, Project Coordinator or Campaign Coordinator.
What are the responsibilities?
- Leading campaigns, and developing successful strategies to enable the development of greener food systems.
- Producing regular research on the current state of food systems, using this research to create evidence-backed reports, studies, and policy recommendations where relevant.
- Creating reports on and presenting how your projects are progressing.
- Working alongside a communications team to write and develop engaging content for social media and other digital outlets.
- Building relationships with industry leaders, MPs, and local community groups, and helping to raise awareness about your campaign.
Who might your employers be?
It is likely you will work for a food charities or NGOs such as Feedback, Sustainable Food Trust or Sustain. Climate charities like Greenpeace also work regularly to bring sustainable changes to the agricultural sector.
What qualifications do you need?
Studying any of the following undergraduate or graduate degrees could prove useful in helping you stand out to employers and succeeding in the role:
- BA International Development, offered at multiple universities across the UK including University of Leeds, King’s College London, University of Sussex and University of East Anglia
- BSc Environment, Food and Society at Royal Agricultural University
- BSc Sustainable Food Production at Writtle University College
- MSc Environment, Politics and Development at SOAS
- MA Political Ecology at Lancaster University
- MSc Sustainable and Efficient Food Production at Aberystwyth University
Saying this, working in activism doesn’t require a specific degree or any academic qualification at all – as long as you can demonstrate confidence and experience in public speaking, campaign strategy, and an excellent understanding of food and sustainability.
Taking on work experience with one or several food sustainability charities will help you build these skills. This could include giving a couple of hours a week to volunteer at a charity like FoodCycle, which gives out free community meals using surplus food from local suppliers. Their Surplus Food Coordinator for example gives people the opportunity to liaise with local supermarkets, restaurants, shops, and other surplus food services to provide cooks with the necessary food donations. You’ll be responsible for seeking out new partnerships with local services and grow the project’s network across the local community.
Other possible places to begin your campaigning experience could also include volunteering in a community garden or contacting your local council to build one if your area doesn’t have one. You could also ask to help out at a sustainable food protest – the Land Workers’ Alliance have marched on the past in The Good Food, Good Farming March on World Food Day which takes place on 16 October every year.
It’s worth keeping in mind that if you want a career in activism, a lot of the work you’ll do at the beginning will probably be unpaid. Nonetheless volunteering will help you build your skillset, your confidence and your knowledge about the sector you want to work for long term as a campaigner.
What is the salary like?
Any paid positions for this role can range from around £29,000 for an entry-level position, to as much as £46,000 – depending on the company you work for and your level of working experience when you apply.
Where will you be working?
The role of a Sustainable Food Campaigner will mostly take place in an office-based environment. As you develop more responsibility however, you may be required to speak on behalf of the organisation in interviews for digital, print, and broadcast media. Depending on the type of company you work and what it campaigns for you may also need to arrange meetings outside of the office space, with community groups to better understand what they feel needs to change, as well as MPs and politicians to make these issues heard and have them addressed. Some travel abroad may also be necessary on occassion to carry out specific meetings.
What is career progression like?
You will typically start out in this sector in a junior campaigning role such as a Campaigns Assistant, where you’ll assist a Campaigns Manager in developing press releases, emails, social media content and other digital material to build your campaign. With at least two years’ experience you could apply for more senior position such as a Senior Campaigning Manager, though the amount of work experience needed for a senior role could vary from company to company. Progression on from this stage would likely mean moving to a role at a different charity or NGO, where you could look into working in more managerial roles such as a Charity Director.
Is there demand for this role?
As long as there is a need for a more sustainable food system there will Sustainable Food Campaigners will always be in high demand. Charities, NGOs and other organisations rely on campaigners to make their work known and to achieve positive change.