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Olympic food project updates 2010

Winter 2010

Sustain are increasingly concerned that there has been little progress on the promised London 2012 Olympic Food Charter, to promote health and sustainability standards to the wider catering sector, inspired by the London 2012 Games. We have written to the London 2012 organisers to ask them what is happening, and re-submitted our earlier proposals for structural and staffing arrangements to run an effective programme of work to promote food standards, sustainability commitments in the wider catering sector, and opportunities for smaller and medium-sized food enterprises. We have yet to hear back from LOCOG on progress.

[Note: In the end, the Olympic Food Charter was replaced with the Food Legacy 2012 programme, coordinated by Sustain and involving LOCOG, Defra, the London Food Board, London Food LInk and many others.]

Meanwhile, plans for the January launch of our new campaign Sustainable Fish City are continuing apace. We are very pleased to announce that the Greater London Authority have agreed to sign up to the London 2012 Food Vision standards. Sustain's Good Food on the Public Plate project officers have helped extensively with the details of implementation, costing and contractual changes to make this commitment possible. The commitment is a significant development, demonstrating London leadership, and will cover catering for major employers such as the London Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, the London Fire Brigade and the Greater London Authority. The London Food Board, chaired by Rosie Boycott, is now also discussing with Sustain how best to champion this commitment with London Boroughs.


Autumn 2010

Sustain's Kath Dalmeny and Jon Walker continue to attend meetings of the London 2012 Food Advisory Group, which may now evolve into a Food Legacy Group, to influence the wider catering sector with the inspiration of the London 2012 Food Vision catering standards, previously billed as an ‘Olympic Food Charter’.  We are arguing for a robust process that would challenge the catering sector to show how they are making tangible commitments and progress towards Food Vision targets (such as demonstrably sustainable fish, seasonal menus, environmental standards for food production and Fairtrade products), to qualify for a London 2012 Inspire Mark. This suggestion is enthusiastically supported by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, which has recently been invited to join the London 2012 Food Advisory Group. However, it is not yet clear how this process will develop.

It also remains unclear how sustainable suppliers and smaller suppliers can take up Olympic opportunites. Meet the buyer events may be organised by LOCOG in early 2011. Meanwhile, Kath and Jon are pursuing contacts with the major caterers that we think may win Olympic contracts, to encourage connections between them and sustainable suppliers, with some useful (although not yet large-scale) results. We will also champion this approach through the Sustainable Fish City campaign.

The Sustainable Fish City campaign working group coordinated by Sustain is expressing increasing enthusiasm for a high-profile campaign to declare London a Sustainable Fish City by 2012, in time for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The lively working group involves Sustain, the Marine Stewardship Council, Marine Conservation Society, Seafood Choices Alliance (coordinators of Good Catch), Good Food on the Public Plate, the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Pisces Responsible Fish Restaurants, Fish4Ever and others. The group has been offered ‘affiliate’ status with the London Food Board, to give it influence and credibility as part of the implementation of the London Food Strategy. We are also keeping Greenpeace briefed on this development, although they are unlikely to join the campaign. We are also developing a relationship with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and his production company Keo Films, who are planning a Channel 4 Fish Fight series in January 2011 to address issues of sustainable fish. Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver are also likely to be involved.

Fundraising for this fish-focused initiative is continuing, and avenues being explored include the Defra 2012 Inspiring Sustainable Living Fund; the European Fishery Funds for marketing support for fishery products; and several other funds that have a biodiversity focus.


Summer 2010

We continue to attend meetings of the London 2012 Food Advisory Group, to influence the wider catering sector with the inspiration of the London 2012 Food Vision catering standards, previously billed as an ‘Olympic Food Charter’. We are arguing for a robust process that would challenge the catering sector to show how they are making tangible commitments and progress towards Food Vision targets (such as demonstrably sustainable fish, seasonal menus, environmental standards for food production and Fairtrade products), to qualify for a London 2012 Inspire Mark. However, it is not yet clear how this process will develop.

It also remains unclear how sustainable suppliers and smaller suppliers can take up Olympic opportunites. Meet the buyer events may be organised in 2011. Meanwhile, we are pursuing contacts with the major caterers that we think may win Olympic contracts, to encourage connections between them and sustainable suppliers, with some useful (although not yet large-scale) results.


Spring 2010

We continue to sit on the London 2012 Food Advisory Group. Since the publication of the London 2012 Food Vision in December 2009, to which Sustain contributed extensively, the catering team for Olympic Games organisers has been focusing on preparing 'Invitations to Negotiate' for major catering contracts. There will be a focus on achieving standards that incorporate seasonality, sustainable seafood, some Fairtrade certified food, and farm assured produce. It has yet to be seen how vigorously the Games organisers will pursue implementation of their ‘aspirational standards’, where most of the environmental aspects now reside.
 
A report on the Olympics and food was published at the beginning of April by the Commission for Sustainable London. Sustain contributed to the consultation for this report. It concludes by congratulating London 2012 on publishing a Food Vision, but warns that the catering organisers will need to make significant efforts to achieve the aspirational standards if environmental ambitions, particularly on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, are to be met.


Winter 2009 (into Spring 2010)

The organisers of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) have committed to serving healthier, ethical and more sustainable food. In its Food Vision, published at the beginning of December, LOCOG have gone for gold in some areas – promising to serve only sustainable fish, fairly traded food and drinks, and encouraging caterers to use local and seasonal food. They have also promised to require that catering staff are trained to meet the standards, and created some opportunities for smaller food businesses to take part.

Unfortunately, so far, animal welfare and environmental standards are expressed as ‘aspirational’. For example, there is as yet no percentage target for the proportion of high welfare Freedom Food accredited meat to be served, or for organic products. Healthy eating will also be promoted and encouraged.

This is the first time that a major international sporting event has addressed food sustainability issues in a catering policy. The London 2012 Games is a significant opportunity to influence catering standards and raise public awareness of food sustainability. Sustain staff have contributed extensively to the LOCOG Food Advisory Group over the past 18 months to secure the commitments set out above, including chairing a seafood working group.


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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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