The FDF Community Partnership Awards celebrate the best industry initiatives to help communities, says Julian Hunt

Should David Cameron want any ideas as to how our sector can play a positive role in bringing to life his coalition's vision of a big society, then he need look no further than the FDF's Community Partnership Awards.

Now in their ninth year, the awards allow the FDF to recognise the tremendous contribution that the UK food and drink sector makes to the many different communities in which it operates. This sits very comfortably with one of the themes of the big society idea, which is all about encouraging organisations and individuals to get more involved in social action and become more socially aware and responsible.

Companies in our sector are rightly proud of the close and longstanding community links. Our awards demonstrate the importance of such investment and provide great examples of best practice. We hope they will encourage other companies to get started or increase the scope of their community projects.

The judging panel led by Lord Haskins made 23 gold, silver, bronze and highly commended awards this year. The prizes were handed out by food minister Jim Paice at a lunch in London this week.

The winners of gold awards this year were General Mills in the local community category; Asda in culture, media and sport; Unilever in workplace wellbeing; and CocaCola Enterprises in education. In the environment category, gold awards were presented to United Biscuits and The Authentic Food Company, while the Findus Group received a special award for its sourcing policies.

This year we have introduced the President's Award which goes to the company or the initiative deemed by FDF president Ross Warburton to be the 'best of the best' among this year's winners.

The first-ever winner is United Biscuits, which performed well across a number of categories and won its gold award for an initiative that shows this is a business that is serious about going green.

All of the winners clearly demonstrate how companies in our sector are having a positive impact on the many communities they engage with. And that's surely what the big society' is all about. Isn't it?

Julian Hunt is communications director of the FDF.