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Winter 2008/9

Good Food Training for London
Good Food Training for London project officer, Pamela Brunton, exceeded her output target for short courses and the total number of individuals trained from hospitals, prisons and care settings is 419. This achievement means she has been able to make this quarter's training much more focused. The project has taken on a number of “mini-projects” at specific locations.

The project provided Food Presentation & Customer Care training courses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, south-east London. Discussions are in progress on running these courses with all ISS Mediclean operations in the capital.

This quarter Pamela also trained care workers in after-school clubs in Menu Planning for their tuck service, following on from healthy eating training provided for the same group by one of the nutritionists from the Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency (which runs the project as a whole). Pamela also provided some basic healthy eating guidance to homeless hostel staff employed by Camden Primary Care Trust. 
Training for Prisons
Good Food Growing skills training at the Latchmere House resettlement prison in Richmond, west London, started in December with a “Garden Planning” work day, where 20 prisoners assembled a poly-tunnel, built raised beds, planted apple trees, and contributed their thoughts for next year's planting schedule. There are plans to supply the prison kitchens with the produce grown, and to sell surplus to other outlets.

The training programme at Holloway prison is due to start in January 2009. Hackney College will train eight staff members to be NVQ Assessors and a Verifier, and support those staff to take 16 prisoners through their NVQ level 2 in Food Preparation and Cookery. The project's evaluator will monitor the impact of the training on purchasing and food choice in the jail. 
Other courses
Pamela has been planning a training day in January 2009 to promote the use of sustainable fish, which will take place at the Seafood Training School at Billingsgate Market. After the success of the first “More than Mince” forequarter meat training day in September, a repeat event will be held in February.

Autumn 2008

  • Three new project officers were recruited for the project.
  • Potential organisations to join the project were identified and initial meetings held to discuss their participation.
  • Meetings were held with the Royal Brompton Hospital, the Royal Marsden Hospital, and the Thamesbrook Residential Carehome to set up a geographical cluster of organisations buying sustainable food.
  • Meetings were held with the Bloomsbury University Group to set up a sectoral cluster of Universities buying sustainable food.

Summer 2008

We are delighted to announce funding from Camden Council helping them develop their sustainable food policy, including their work on food procurement. 

The project report is now complete and available on request. The authors (F3) concluded that the Defra-funded work has and will continue to be very valuable and that its “hand holding” approach should be developed. Sustain agrees with this wholeheartedly, but is equally convinced that this approach is too piecemeal. A different approach is needed to achieve change in the face of issues such as peak oil and climate change.

Sustain's key recommendation is that the UK should introduce a mandatory requirement on public sector institutions to buy and serve healthy and sustainable food, to meet national priority policy objectives relating to health, obesity, environment, sustainable agriculture and climate change. This needs mandatory and enforceable measures, with clear targets and monitoring of progress. A funding proposal has been developed and submitted and we will report on progress in due course.

St Andrew's hospital, in Northampton is now buying over 70% of its produce from within a 75 mile radius and is on target to spend approximately 20% of its annual food budget on sustainable ('organic or ethical') food. The hospital is a private institution: the project became involved because most patients are referred from the NHS and the catering manager is the Chair of the London branch of the Hospital Caterers' Association.
Newham General Hospital is also interested and are already purchasing MSC fish and fairtrade hot drinks. In addition, a number of mainly London-based universities have approached us, asking if we can explain our work to their catering and management colleagues, with a view to implementing Sustain's sustainable food guidelines.

Rosie recently ran a workshop for NHS and other public sector procurement professionals at a conference organised by SW Food and Drink in Taunton. Rosie was also asked to speak in July at a local food / public procurement conference, Harnessing Food Purchasing Power, on Vancouver Island, Canada.  

Getting started
GFPP project officers helped write the booklet Getting Started; The really simple guide to buying more sustainable food earlier this year.

Talking to doctors
Rosie has arranged for a volunteer, Jane Banham to interview doctors at the Royal Brompton. As part of their induction, doctors new to the hospital are sent to talk to Mike Duckett, the catering manager. We regard this as hugely significant – an NHS hospital acknowledging that medical staff need to know about the food being served in the hospital. Whilst talking to Mike, they'll also learn about the hospital's sustainable food objectives and policy and, ideally, become career-long advocates of it. We thank the staff of the Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust for their full support in this important exercise.

Good food training
Pamela Brunton's work on training is managed as part of the GFPP Project, but is funded separately.
This quarter we have run an additional two sessions in Food Presentation, one in Customer Care and one in Healthy Eating for 46 hospital staff. Pamela has attended several forums for the care sector. So far we have run one Food Presentation session at a residential care home in Blackheath, for 16 people and we have a minimum of 158 places booked on courses for the care sector from 1 July.

Pamela has visited three prisons and has been in contact with several more. We have a day's training for the CIEH award in Healthy Eating and Special Diets booked in both Wormwood Scrubs and Latchmere House jails. It is not currently possible to provide NVQs to prisoners through Train to Gain funding. Pamela has been investigating other funding possibilities. and aims to use Holloway as a 'pilot prison' for the training project. In return for providing fully-funded training to the jail, she will ask them to participate in supplementary sustainable food procurement and 'healthy eating' training.

Pamela continues to sit on the NHS Core Learning Unit E-learning Programme: Food and Nutrition Technical Management Group to help provide the first in-house training for the NHS around food and nutrition. The e-learning course was launched in early June.

Pamela also continues to liaise with the Sector Skills Councils for health, care, and hospitality. This quarter she contributed to a consultation workshop for Skills for Health about health care training for the 'third sector', and attended a conference organised by Skills for Care in South-East London.

Spring 2008

Rosie recently attended an open day at an Abbeyfield Kent Society (AKS) care home. AKS's homes are starting to use more fresh, local produce. The day was featured on the local evening television news, and the project's Harvest for Health photo-exhibition was displayed in the run up to the day. Several of the residents are former farmers and particularly appreciated the photographs. Local schoolchildren also visited on the open day.
Hospital visits
Rosie will be meeting the Director of Patient Services at Newham University Hospital to explain what they can do to improve the sustainability of their catering. We also recently revisited St George's mental health trust. Since our previous visit we were delighted to find that they have made a number of improvements.

Promotional work
We recently published Getting Started: The really simple guide to buying sustainable food in collaboration with Melissa Love, coordinator for the south east Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative.

Camden Council
Rosie and Zeenat (London Food Link) attended Camden Council's Sustainability Taskforce meeting to offer guidance on their draft food policy which will go to the Council's Executive for approval in May. Discussions continue with the borough's Primary Care Trust about helping them implement the policy.

Sustainable food in schools
The project submitted a short editorial for inclusion in the Headteachers' and Bursars' Handbook of Sustainable Procurement, encouraging schools to see sustainable food as an essential part of their environmental responsibility and as an educational opportunity. The handbook is sent free to over 32,000 UK schools twice a year.

Local Food Plus
Lori Stahlbrand, director of Local Food Plus in Toronto, Canada ( visited us in March to talk about their sustainable procurement work.

The final working party for this phase of the project was well attended. There was unanimous agreement that the work should continue – combining both practical support with a campaigning role – and every effort will be made to find new funding.

Good Food Training for London project
Although the project has already been operating, Jenny Jones, Chair of the London Food Board, publicly launched this project on 15 February, at Marlborough Primary School in Bexley.

The first round of recruitment focused mainly on hospitals and, apart from one primary care trust, the training so far has been provided to hospitals only. Despite this bespoke approach, the number of courses run has met or exceeded targets already.

Recruitment activities are now focusing primarily on care homes, and particularly in the South-East of London, in the hope of achieving a notable 'borough-level' momentum.

Although no trainees have been recruited from prisons so far, Pamela has a number of influential contacts in the prison service, including Alan Tuckwood, head of catering for all of the UK's prison service.

As short courses began it became apparent that the content did not always incorporate skills for healthy and sustainable food. This has provided an opportunity to develop new training materials.

As well as devising and running courses, and recruiting trainees, this project will also promote the healthiness and sustainability of food to organisations in a good position to implement changes now and in the future. We are already making good progress on this.

Winter 2007/08

Rosie and Maresa have continued to liaise with several hospitals and care/nursing homes in London and the South East including East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust, Mildmay Hospital and Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust (PCT). We have supplied catering managers with details of suitable producers in their local areas, as well as working with their existing suppliers to help them buy more sustainable food.

Two visits were also arranged to local farms that are already supplying the public sector.

New publications
A new set of guidelines has been produced in conjunction with the South East Food Group Partnership (SEFGP). The simple 8-page brochure called Getting Started is for public sector caterers, chefs and buyers, who are finding it hard to know what to do first. See

Hannah Roberson, who has been volunteering for the project, has compiled a list of case studies of hospitals in the UK and overseas that have been working to increase the amount of sustainable food they provide for patients and staff. These case studies focus in particular on: whether the move towards more sustainable food has been achieved within budget; how patients have responded to the food; whether there have been any positive reactions from kitchen and other staff; whether the suppliers' businesses have benefited; and whether food waste has been reduced or there have been any other environmental benefits. These will be published on the website and circulated to interested parties.

Sustainable procurement events
We have also been helping to support several events about procuring more sustainable food. This includes the Celebration of Local Food trade event taking place at New Covent Garden on 6 February 2008, which will introduce suppliers to buyers from the public and private sectors. We are also involved in organising a VIP event at the Royal Brompton in partnership with the Soil Association, to which Chief Executives of a small number of NHS Hospital Trusts have been invited. In addition we recently met with public health staff at the Government Office of the South East who are proposing to organise a conference in Spring 2008.

Good Food Training for London project
After becoming project officer on 1 October 2007, Pamela spent some time researching key documents and existing courses on food and nutrition for hospitals and care homes in the UK, and consulting on the content of the proposed training courses. Pamela established which of the courses were most useful for this distinct sector, and what was missing. 

In November, the draft course content for schools was amended to incorporate the specific needs of hospitals and care homes and Pamela will help Lewisham College to develop the content of the short courses.

The NHS Core Learning Unit is producing the service's first internal training programme on food and nutrition, and Pamela attended this e-learning programme's technical management group meeting on 11 December. The programme's first priority module, due for completion in May 2008, deals with the 'customer care' aspects of presenting the food to patients.

The GFPP team, and Pamela, are also co-ordinating efforts with the Soil Association, which is planning to develop the Food for Life (FFL) schools food standards for other public sector institutions. Fiona White, FFL representative for London, was invited to the Good Food Training project's steering group meeting in December.

Public procurement
Kath has continued to consult Sustain members and advisors, with a view to launching a campaign for public food procurement to become 100% sustainable. We are now refining a funding application to submit to several possible funders early in 2008.

Good Food on the Public Plate: Good Food on the Public Plate (GFPP) provided a wide range of assistance to a diverse cross-section of London's public sector organisations including local authorities, hospitals, universities and care homes, to enable them to use more sustainable food in their catering.

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