Scotland's schools, hospitals and prisons should be matched with local farmers to promote healthier eating, while training should be offered to the unemployed to work in the food industry, a conference in Glasgow has heard.

The Food Summit is part of a wider plan to develop a comprehensive food strategy for the city encompassing council policy, charities, businesses, the NHS, churches and football clubs.

Speakers included Andrea Magarini Pellini, food policy coordinator in the Mayor's office in Milan – which introduced the world leading Urban Food Policy Pact, and Professor Corinna Hawkes, vice chair of London's Child Obesity Taskforce.

Prof Hawkes said joining up policies on food poverty, sustainability and food waste could help cities find solutions to wider problems including crime, the educational attainment gap, health and environmental challenges.

"For example if farmers near the city are struggling to find markets for their products, there are markets in urban areas such as schools hospitals and prisons," she said. "Or if there is a shortage of skills in the food industry and an unemployment problem among certain minority groups, a training scheme could tackle both at once."

"All over the world, cities are taking food far more seriously and developing food strategies."

Pete Ritchie, executive director of Nourish Scotland said Glasgow City Council is committed to developing a food strategy, bringing together the disparate efforts of community projects, council schemes to tackle food poverty, and health promotion.

"We have to keep people at the heart of this," he said. "Businesses have food policies but households do to - and they can be quite strict and hard to change."

People won't change their diets because you put up a 'five a day' poster, he said.

"We have a farm and our pigs eat whatever you put in front of them, while the cows wander around and eat what they need.

"We are more like pigs than cows. We eat what's in front of us.

"If that is takeaways and biscuits we'll eat that. Cost comes into it - if you have a choice between cheap takeaway food and something better from Pret a Manger which won't fill you up and costs three times as much, tha is a factor.

"If you want people to ride their bikes you have to have cycle lanes. Food is the same."

Better food in schools would mean less food waste, Ritchie says, while praising an East Ayrshire scheme which repackages school meal leftovers for families to take home at the school gate.

The Milan Urban Food Pact has explored other ideas, engaging 3000 parents in helping improve food in schools, and providing 2,800 urban food growing plots. Mr Pellini said the scheme had also engaged supermarkets and canteens in donating unused food to charities using financial incentives, while 86 street markets have increased access to healthy food. Milan's general market distributes one million tonnes of healthy food per year, he said.

Agreeing with the need to develop a food strategy for the city, Bailie Elaine Ballantyne, Chair of Glasgow City Council’s General Purposes Committee, stated: “The work of the Food Inequality Inquiry has highlighted the many excellent community based initiatives and responses in Glasgow working every day with people in crisis. However to tackle this effectively we need a coherent strategy or plan for the city with clear outcomes that all partners are signed up to.”

Jill Muirie, Public Health Programme Manager from Glasgow Centre for Population Health said a city food strategy could scale up the work of a range of food-related projects across Glasgow. She added: “Organisations and individuals also have a role to play for example, by reducing processed foods and increasing vegetable consumption, and supporting more local businesses that offer healthy and affordable food. Purchasing more local and seasonal food can also help by reducing emissions from food miles, as well as being better for the local economy. Food waste is also an important source of carbon emissions and it is vital that we all waste less food.”