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Sustain / Eat Somerset

Sustainable food in the public sector

Good Food on the Public PlateSustain's main activities on public sector food are undertaken by the Good Food on the Public Plate project, working in London and the southeast. See the project pages at:  

This page is an archive of public sector food work in the southwest.

Eat Somerset public sector food activities in 2008/09

Fruit and vegetable production

During 2009, Sustain's Eat Somerset project developed a proposal for work to increase fruit and vegetable growing in the West of England area (see map below for area boundary in red) for supply to reliable market outlets in the public sector. The proposal has been developed in partnership with four local authorities; growers; health authorities, schools and other relevant organisations in the area, who have all expressed their enthusiasm for and commitment to involvement in the project. The plan was submitted as a project bid to the Local Food Fund of the Big Lottery, but unfortunately did not receive funding.

The aim of the project is to increase fruit and vegetable growing in the West of England area for use by public sector caterers (schools, care homes, hospitals). We planned to work to:

  • Increase growing (amount of produce, land in production, and the number of people growing fruit and vegetables) with at least three significant existing growers;
  • Create market opportunities to facilitate at least four currently unmanaged orchards back into commercial production to supply the public sector;
  • Facilitate produce to public sector markets through a range of techniques including identifying markets; and developing and implementing a comprehensive plan of action with at least 20 schools;
  • Raise awareness of growing and sustainable local food issues through educational trips and community involvement with at least 10 participating schools and school communities;
  • Develop skills by providing mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities with existing growers to at least three new growers with the potential to grow to a significant level of production.

We also planned to:

  • Build lasting partnerships with local, regional and national organisations interested in healthy and sustainable food production and consumption; disseminate learning and good practice through this network; and by this means influence local policy makers to support similar work in future;
  • Contribute learning and inspiring case studies to the European Commission (who are already consulting Sustain and its members) to influence development of the new EU School Fruit Scheme, launched in 2008; with the possibility that similar work could receive EU support in future.

Meet the Buyers for the Public Sector, Thursday 9th October 2008

Sustain has a strong history of working with public sector caterers and procurement officers to improve the healthiness and sustainability of the food they serve. This has also been an aspect of Eat Somerset's work (although the main focus is on improving the uptake of local food in the retail sector). As part of Eat Somerset's work with public institutions In 2008, we will hold a Meet the Buyers for the Public Sector event, to connect local food producers with public sector caterers. 

Eat Somerset public sector food activities in 2007

Sustainable food procurement in the public sector in the Bath & North Eat Somerset area

In February 2007, the Eat Somerset project team received some funding from Government Office for the South West to:

  • Assess current activity and interest in local and sustainable food procurement amongst public sector institutions and public service providers in Bath and North East Somerset,
  • Encourage increased procurement of local and sustainable food. 

By sustainable food we mean food that is locally grown/reared or processed, food that is healthy, food that is produced using environmentally sensitive production methods, food that is fairly traded and/or food that is produced to high animal welfare standards.

The work was completed by March 2007 with the holding a seminar and the completion of a report which will inform future local food work in Bath and North East Somerset.

The following organisations were contacted:

  • The Avon and Somerset Constabulary (Bath, Keynsham and Radstock police stations)
  • The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health NHS Partnership Trust
  • The Avon Fire and Rescue Services (stations in B&NES)
  • Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) Primary Care Trust
  • Council-owned historic public buildings with catering outlets, including the Roman Baths and Pump Room and the Museum of Costume
  • The Council procurement team 
  • Leisure facilities managed by Aquaterra Leisure under a Leisure Partnership Agreement with Bath Council, including those in Bath, Keynsham and South Wandsyke
  • Ministry of Defence bases
  • Residential care homes and day centres for the elderly, for people with special needs and for people with physical disabilities, run by B&NES Social Services 
  • The Royal United Hospital 
  • Secondary schools and other schools that manage their own school meals services
  • Universities and further education colleges, including Bath Spa University, University of Bath, City of Bath College and Norton Radstock College

Eat Somerset: From 2006 to 2009 Sustain co-ordinated a food chain project in south west England that worked to increase trading between producer groups in and around Somerset and independent food retailers in the county, and create new markets in Bristol and Bath.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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