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Project updates 2009

Good Food on the Public Plate Awards 2009

The efforts of public sector caterers to use more sustainable food were recognised at the inaugural Good Food on the Public Plate awards at City Hall on 16 November.

The awards, presented by Rosie Boycott who chairs the London Food Board, went to 15 universities, hospitals and other public sector bodies who have made great strides to make the food they serve more sustainable by serving food that is local, seasonal, Fair Trade or assured by an animal welfare scheme.

Some examples of winners are Royal Holloway University introducing free range eggs, ensuring no endangered fish are served and promoting vegetarian food, Enfield school catering services serving only English apples when in season and free range eggs, Birkbeck University of London, Greenwich University and Queen Mary University of London for no longer using bottled water in any meetings or events on campus and so reducing the amount of waste they produce.  South London and Maudsley NHS Trust also won an award for replacing liquid eggs with Free Range eggs at Lambeth Hospital. The Metropolitan Police Service won for using fish from a sustainable source, switching to free range eggs, educating their catering staff about the use of seasonal fruit and vegetables and being a founding member of the London Cluster of Good Food on the Public Plate.

Rosie Boycott says “The Metropolitan Police Service have certainly proved themselves as good eggs in winning this award.  Their decision to only buy free range eggs is 'cracking' news for their staff, for the environment and for the welfare of animals.”

She continued: “The winners of the Good Food on the Public Plate awards show that public sector food can be delicious, healthy and good for the planet. Crucially taking these steps with creativity means good food need not cost the earth at a time when budgets are under increasing pressure. These food champions provide a great example that other organisations should follow.”

The Metropolitan Police Service will now buy over a million British free range eggs a year.  Caroline Mortimer, Director of Catering for the MPS:  "For the last year the MPS has been working closely with Sustain looking at how we source our produce. As a result of this successful partnership the MPS has moved to using only free range eggs, increased its use of sustainable fish and has trained staff in seasonal menu planning. The award reflects the excellent work of the team and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Sustain and passing on the benefits to our customer."

Good Food on the Public Plate organised their inaugural awards to celebrate and recognise those in the public sector who are working hard to make sure that the meals they serve not only taste good but benefit the environment.

The public sector serves over a billion meals a year to school children, hospital patients and the state's most vulnerable citizens. 

The winners have all made one or more significant changes – some have converted to only using free range eggs, or no longer buy bottled water. Others are now buying fish from certified sustainable sources or have committed to only buying British bacon – which is guaranteed to come from a source where welfare standards are higher than those often found outside the UK.

Good Food on the Public Plate Project Officer Jon Walker asserts that “London's public sector institutions are leading the way in the procurement of sustainable food both collaboratively and individually proving it is possible to purchase sustainable food cost effectively”.

Good Food on the Public Plate is a project run by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, coordinated through the London Food Board and funded by the London Development Agency.  The project aims to increase the amount of sustainable food used by the public sector in London by providing free of charge advise and support to catering and procurement staff.

The full list of winners of the Good Food on the Public Plate awards is:

Metropolitan Police Service
• Using fish from a sustainable source
• Switching to free range eggs
• Educating catering staff about the use of seasonal fruit
 and vegetables
• Being a founding member of the London Cluster of Good Food on the Public Plate.

 London Borough of Enfield
• Using fish from a sustainable source
• Switching to free range eggs
• Working with their produce supplier to use only English apples when in season and incorporate other seasonal fruit and vegetables into their menus
• Being a founding member of the London Cluster of
Good Food on the Public Plate.

 London Borough of Havering
• Initiating and co-ordinating collaboration for sustainable purchasing of food
• Being a founding member of the London Cluster of Good Food on the Public Plate.

 Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
• Collaborating with the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust to purchase British bacon and sausages.

Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
• Collaborating with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to purchase British bacon and sausages.

Imperial College London
• Collaborating with the Thamesbrook Care Home to purchase free range eggs.

Thamesbrook care home
• Collaborating with Imperial College London to purchase free range eggs.

Royal Holloway, University of London
• Using fish from a sustainable source
• Switching to free range eggs
• Increasing the number of meat free meals sold
• Being a founding member of the London Cluster of Good Food on the Public Plate in their capacity as members of London University Caterers Association.

Birkbeck, University of London
• Discontinuing the use of bottled water in their hospitality service.

Institute of Education
• Switching to free range eggs

University of Greenwich
• Discontinuing the use of bottled water in their hospitality service.

Queen Mary, University of London
• Developing a sustainable food procurement policy
• Discontinuing the use of bottled water in their hospitality service
• Setting up a recycling and composting system for their kitchen waste.

City University London
• Developing a sustainable food procurement policy

Tower Hamlets Children's Services Contract Services
• Being a founding member of the London Cluster of Good Food on the Public Plate.

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
• Switching to free range eggs
• Developing their outsourced catering contract with strong sustainability specifications.


Autumn 2009

We are in the midst of developing the fruit and vegetable tender for the Chelsea cluster. Expressions of interest have been received from 13 suppliers. We are continuing to work with our pan-London cluster to set up collaborative contracts. The first area is dairy and we are collecting purchasing data and expressions of interest from suppliers. We are also working with Freedom Foods to organise a visit in November to different chicken production systems. This is so that cluster members can see the difference higher welfare systems make, in preparation for the next collaborative contract (for meat).
 
On 16 November we will be holding an awards event to celebrate the achievements of 14 of our participants who have made changes to procure more sustainable food. The awards will be held at City Hall and hosted by Rosie Boycott.
 
NHS Supply Chain is the privatised company which supplies much of the food (and other products) for the NHS and some other public bodies. We have been trying to engage them in our work for some time, but were very disappointed when we received an email from a senior employee describing sustainability as “fluffy” and down playing sustainability criteria in the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS) tender. We wrote to the Schools Minister to complain about this and received a response from a minister in the Department of Health refusing to suspend the tendering process for the SFVS and asking us to discuss our concerns direct with NHS Supply Chain. We have recently had a productive meeting with NHS Supply Chain and hope this will lead to both a better working relationships and an improvement in the amount of sustainable food they supply.

 


 

Summer 2009

Seven Good Food on the Public Plate participants, and the project itself, won Good Egg Awards from Compassion in World Farming in May. Several other participants have either switched to free range eggs or are investigating switching.

The Chelsea cluster is leading the way on collaborating for sustainable procurement and is trialling bacon from British-reared pigs and Freedom Food chicken.

We have also formed a cluster to develop London-wide contracts that public sector organisations can join to procure more sustainable food. The founding members are the Metropolitan Police, London University Caterers Association, Havering, Enfield, and Tower Hamlets borough councils. The first category we will be collaborating on is dairy. We have also been working with some participants to review fish purchasing and change to only sustainable species.

We continue working with organisations to formalise sustainable food aims into policies, and help  write sustainability specifications into catering and food contracts. In June we ran a popular training event, with Good Food Training for London, called Contracts: A fresh look. We took some 50 trainees (mostly procurement and catering managers) through EU contract regulations, how to incorporate sustainability into contracts, and the importance of developing supportive relationships with small and local suppliers.

Finally, we have been working with the wider farming community to raise the profile of public procurement, and build better working relationships between suppliers and procurers. In April we held a meeting of people involved in supplying meat into London to identify possible solutions to the problems we've identified. We are planning a similar workshop to tackle sustainable dairy products.


Spring 2009

Good Food on the Public Plate has made great advances since we began our new phase in November 2008.  The organisations that we are working with and the assistance we are providing them are wide ranging.

Participants

The degree of interest in Good Food on the Public Plate has meant that we are working with a number of organisations across London.  They include:

  • Chelsea Cluster: A group of hospitals, a care home, and a university who are working to purchase collectively and increase the sustainability of their food.
  • Camden Cluster: A group made up of a hospital, museum, library, and three universities working together on their food waste management, phasing out bottled water, sustainable menu planning, and developing sustainable food policies.
  • Universities Cluster: We are helping a pre-existing university purchasing consortium  to use more sustainable food, focusing initially on meat. We are also helping several of their members to develop sustainable food policies.
  • Council Cluster: We are working with five separate boroughs on a range of issues from buying free range eggs, developing sustainable food policies, through to assisting with building London-wide framework agreements for sustainable school catering.
  • Government Cluster: Initial work has been done to develop a central government cluster of organisations working on their catering systems together.
  • Metropolitan Police Service: We are working with the Met to help them on issues such as buying free range eggs and achieving Marine Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certification.
  • We are also working with some individual organisations such as prisons, universities, and public sector contract caterers to do sustainability audits and help with finding suppliers of more sustainable products.

Events

A 'Meet the Buyer' event was held in association with the South East Food Group Partnership at the International Food and Drink Event in March. There was a good turnout of public sector buyers and south east producers and relationships were formed between them. We are planning several more events like this, the first of which is a visit to a supplier (of what?), Luton Hoo, in association with the National Farmers Union. 
 
Two training events are being planned. One is for members of the London Branch of the Hospital Caterers Association which will explore what is meant by sustainable food and how these caterers can incorporate these principles into their work. The second is a day long course in June preliminarily called Contracts: A fresh look.  It is for contract mangers and several speakers will discuss EU contract regulations, how to incorporate sustainability into contracts, and the importance of developing supportive relationships with small and local suppliers.

At national level Sustain has begun a three year campaign for 100% sustainable public food procurement to be a compulsory, not voluntary, target. For more information about this campaign contact Alex Jackson alex@sustainweb.org 0203 5596 777.

2009 Good Food on the Public Plate received a Good Egg award from Compassion in World Farming. The award was made in recognition of Jon, Kena and David, the project officers' work to increase the number of free range eggs used in public procurement in London. Imperial College, Thamesbrook Carehome, Royal Brompton Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital of the Chelsea Cluster also won Good Egg Awards as did the British Library and Birkbeck, University of London from the Camden Cluster.

Jon Walker and Rosie Boycott at the Good Egg Awards

Jon Walker, project officer, receives the Good Egg Award
from Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food, on behalf of Good Food on the Public Plate.


Winter 2009

Three new Good Food on the Public Plate project officers have been appointed to work on the new phase of the project in London. The team will be developing clusters of organisations working together to improve the sustainability of their catering. There are already three clusters and several more in the initial development stages including a cluster of central government departments and another of universities.

The cluster scheme will not only allow for more sustainable procurement through the joint ordering and deliveries of goods, but also a structure for organisations to get support and inspiration from each other.

At national level Sustain is currently recruiting a project officer to run our new, three year campaign for 100% sustainable public food procurement to be a compulsory, not voluntary, target. Prior to this appointment, we are already working with the Government's voluntary Healthy Food Mark, to try to raise the standards and ensure sustainability standards are integrated from the beginning, alongside nutrition.

London Food Infrastructure Project

We have received funding from the London Development Agency to carry on the Good Food on the Public Plate project as part of the Local Food Infrastructure project.  This project is part of the wider London Development Agency Local Food Infrastructure Project. There are 5 strands to this project which all work together to develop London's sustainable food industry.  They are:

  • Developing sustainable food in London's Wholesale Markets,
  • Creating a 'local to London' brand.
  • Improving food access,
  • Exploring sustainable food transport, and
  • Extending public procurement of sustainable food.

Project Officers

Three project officers have been appointed to carry out the project work they are:
  • David Rose – who has a background in farming, public procurement of regional goods, and the setting up of regional food hubs.
  • Jon Walker – who has a background working for Tate & Lyle selling to a number of contract caterers and the public sector.
  • Kena Duignan – who has a background in sustainable business and retailing organic and sustainable products.

Working Group

As part of the project the existing working group will be developed.  The membership of this group will comprise people working in public procurement with an interest in sustainable food.  This group will provide knowledge and networking opportunities to ensure that the project follows good practice and that opportunities to spread this good practice are identified and taken advantage of. 

Clusters

The project will work with public sector organisations to develop clusters working together to locate, purchase, and receive deliveries of more sustainable food. We will be working with two kinds of clusters, those organised on a geographical basis and those organised across sectors. 


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