The project has welcomed two members of staff – Maresa Bosano and Pamela Brunton.
Coordination with the South East Food Partnership
Rosie and Kath met with Melissa Love, public sector project manager for the South East Food Group Partnership, to discuss cooperation between London hospitals and nearby regional producer networks and supporting organisations and to share information about forthcoming work. Several ideas for cooperation are now being pursued.
Hospital and care home visits
Rosie and Maresa have visited four hospital trusts in London with a view to increasing the percentage (generally from 0%!) of local, sustainable produce. The catering managers have all been keen to 'do something' and the project has prepared a Simple Steps to Sustainable Catering guide to help them. They also visited a care home trust in Kent that has been endeavouring to compile a preferred sustainable supplier list for its ten care homes for the elderly.
Health Service Journal awards
In association with the Royal Brompton hospital, the project has been short-listed for the Health Service Journal Sustainable Awards. The winners will be announced in December.
Visit to Hastings Fishery
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is keen to extend its Fish'n'Kids scheme to promote sustainable fish in hospital catering. The project invited hospital catering managers to attend a London Food Link organised visit to an MSC-approved sustainable fishery in Hastings. We have agreed to support the MSC as they extend the scheme into hospitals.
We are about to commence a 'mini-project' with a volunteer to collate evidence (anecdotal or medical/
scientific) of instances where using local, fresh, seasonal or organic food is believed to have had a positive effect on, for example:
- Patients' quality of life (improved health, behaviour and mood)
- Food budget – where better quality ingredients have led to less wastage and patients doing or feeling better
- Medicine budget – using 'food as medicine', and perhaps reducing drugs use and bills
- Reduced length of stay and faster recovery periods.
We intend to use this information to help persuade others of the potential benefits of sustainable food.
Public sector training project
As part of the implementation of the London Food Strategy, the London Development Agency has commissioned the Greenwich Cooperative Development Agency (GCDA) to undertake a major project to train around 1,200 people involved in public sector catering over the next two years. The main focus of this work is on schools.
Sustain is also part of this project, developing a parallel strand of training activities primarily for hospitals and care homes – but which could also be open to other public sector organisations such as prisons, young offenders institutions, the police and the army. Former chef Pamela Brunton will lead this project for Sustain.
Celebrating the 18th year of Apple Days, the project organised several Apple Day events in London hospitals.
Public procurement campaign
The question continues to be raised: how can we make sustainable food routine in public sector catering? And how can a policy, campaigns and network organisation such as Sustain best use its expertise and diverse range of supporters to make this happen? We now feel that this project should enter a more campaigning period. Kath has drafted an options paper, circulated to staff and supporters.
We will be researching policy and funding options over the coming months.
Since the publication of the Sustainable Food in Care Catering briefing paper in conjunction with the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) in 2006, the project has continued to foster a very positive relationship with the association. The NACC and GFPP are currently seeking funding for a project officer to focus on getting more local, sustainable food into care homes.
The project is delighted to have been offered a permanent seat at Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) practitioners' meetings. The group meets quarterly to discuss progress and good practice from across the regions. Sitting on this group will enable us to find out what is happening in public procurement nationally; what is working, and what is not working. We will also be able to use this information to improve the effectiveness of GFPP and help improve awareness of the initiative and what it represents across the south east.
The GFPP replication group met in April for a workshop exploring individuals' motivation for becoming involved in sustainable procurement. The Centre for Human Ecology will analyse the reasons for commonalities and use this information to help identify procurement managers and others who would be more likely to support sustainable food procurement.
Meals on wheels
On June 14 we presented our project at the launch of a toolkit designed to increase the sustainability of meals on wheels contracts and to increase tendering opportunities for small and local food producers. Funded by the London Centre of Excellence as part of the Sustainable Procurement project, the toolkit was developed with support from Sustain, and procurement officers from several local authorities.
Better cooperation in the public sector was advocated by the National Audit Office in the Smarter Food Procurement in the Public Sector report. Collaboration has been recognised as a key driver to push forward sustainability objectives in catering contracts. This toolkit will be promoted to local authorities across the capital to encourage adoption of its objectives and promote shared goals on sustainability for their community meals service.
With great regret, we announce that Emma Hockridge will leave Sustain at the end of July. A new project officer will be recruited during the summer.
Work with the Government Office for London is almost complete, undertaken by Emma and Courtney. The project ran exploratory meetings with London boroughs and hospitals to look at the possibility of developing buying groups, and included gathering baseline information on the food procurement contracts of the boroughs involved.
Meals on Wheels
Work continues with the London Centre of Excellence on sustainability for the Meals on Wheels service. Clauses for sustainability have been included in the contract for Islington, and guidance has been given on food assurance schemes. We have also begun looking at a review of the community meals service across London.
Work also continues with the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) to develop a strategy and plan of action to encourage a large number of NACC members across the country to engage in sustainable food procurement. A seminar was held on 24 April to introduce this project.
The London Development Agency has funded development of a training programme for public sector caterers, led by Greenwich Cooperative Development Agency (GCDA). Sustain will be sub-contracted to the project to help with course development and recruitment. GCDA will shortly be appointing a project manager to oversee the development of the work and issue service level agreements, which will enable Sustain to recruit another project officer to undertake the work (possibly to be based at the GCDA office in Greenwich).
Emma completed her final Nuffield Scholarship trip. This was to the Gambia, and it proved to be a fascinating tour of the agricultural system of the country, helping participants gain an understanding of the work of the host NGO, Concern Universal.
With regret, we announce Mathew Castle left at the beginning of April. We are delighted to say that Rosie Blackburn, with a background in farm business advisory services, farmers' market coordination and rural resource management, will be joining the project in May.
Expanding the network
Despite the fact that the project has already recruited the number of public sector outlets specified in the contract with Defra, we will continue to incorporate new organisations. This not only strengthens the network but, given the experience in the pilot phase of the project, some organisations may not be able to complete the full programme of activities.
New organisations joining the project include the Chalfont Epilepsy Centre (residential care for people with epilepsy); the Seckford Centre (sheltered housing and residential care), and the Abbeyfield Kent Society (residential care). We are also working with St Mungo's, London's largest homelessness organisation, to encourage them to join the project.
New potential suppliers include Essex Wildlife Trust, which have a flock of heritage breed cattle and sheep, currently used for conservation grazing. Mat has also met Langridges Organics, a wholesalers based at New Covent Garden, which wants to expand its supply to schools.
The Government Office for London has awarded a small grant to East Anglia Food Link, who will work with GFPP to set up new buyer and supplier groups in London. Together we will run seminars and develop practical briefing papers to facilitate supplying larger amounts of sustainable food to the public sector. The GFPP project will also be working with the Greenwich Community Food Initiative to develop training for public sector catering staff from across London, with funding from the London Development Agency. The funding will allow Sustain to appoint a full-time project officer for two years, starting in spring 2007.
Promoting the project
Emma and Mat continue to promote the project widely, including internationally. Mat has given presentations in Birmingham, to encourage hospital catering and procurement managers to set up a project similar to Sustain's, and in Portsmouth, to encourage 'Local Food on the Public Plate'. The Portsmouth event sparked interest in the GFPP project from a secondary school, two hospital trusts and several local producers.
Mat has also been working with Princess Frederica's, a primary school in North West London, organising both a sustainable food cookery demonstration for parents and staff, and a mini organic farmers' market and organic tasting table. Farming And Countryside Education (FACE), and the London Farmers' Market organisation were also present to give information and advice. Princess Frederica's now buys all its fruit and vegetables from Choice Organics, and we hope to find more schools in the area to join the project and form a buying cluster.
The project continues to produce the public procurement round-up, and also the e-bulletin for farmers in London, in association with the National Farmers' Union, with editions of both circulated in December.
The project has been working jointly with London Food Link to design a series of Farm to Plate visits, designed to encourage school staff and catering managers, for example, to find out more about how different aspects of the supply chain operate.
Mathew is working with Hannah Williams (consultant on the Young Cooperatives project, see below) to develop a new pilot project proposal. It aims to work with a small number of secondary schools to test a training program for students to provide skills in entrepreneurship, sustainability, nutrition and cookery. Trained students would give presentations on healthy, sustainable food to primary schools in their area, and also open a sustainable food business in their own school.
Brooke Jensen, an intern from the US, helped to update the project database with information from hospitals on their catering contract and catering provision. This will allow GFPP to expand the network of hospitals and also help sustainable suppliers meet the hospitals' needs more effectively.
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