Olympic food project updates 2011
The London 2012 Olympic Games caterers have adopted sustainable food procurement standards and aspire to healthier catering, with specific commitments set out in the London 2012 Food Vision (published autumn 2009). The certification bodies will be working with the catering companies in the first quarter of 2012 on verifying the sustainability credentials of food supplies for the 13 million meals. London 2012 is also exploring an option to include an information box on London 2012 menus to highlight certified food and assurance logos.
The Food Legacy programme, inspired by the London 2012 Food Vision, will:
- Promote widespread uptake of the London 2012 Food Vision standards by the caterers, venues, events organisers, restaurants, hospitality and institutions with a Food Legacy pledge.
- Promote an online free-to-use Food Finder to enable organisations to find suppliers of food and catering services that meet Food Vision criteria.
- An important principle of the Food Legacy programme is to enhance the work of existing sustainable catering programmes and sustainable food groups. A sustainable food legacy from London 2012 will include a thriving future for these important tried-and-tested approaches. In addition, Food Legacy will also seek to develop or enhance areas of work not covered by existing schemes.
The project has already:
- Included Food Legacy in the Good Food for London mapping report
- Distributed project information through the Associate Food and Parliamentary Health Forum newsletter and Foodservice Footprint magazine
- Worked as a member of the new Food for Life Catering Mark standards board to ensure that endangered fish will now be excluded from the catering of award holders at Bronze award level, and nutrition standards will apply for award-holding caterers in care settings
- Approached a range of institutions, tourist attractions, sports venues and events organisers to seek support for sustainable food policies
- Collaborated with Fairtrade London on plans for a trade event in spring 2012, and with Sustainable Fish City on a Sustainable Fish Summit in January 2012
- Approached the organisers of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games about them adopting healthy and sustainable food standards.
Note: Since this update was published, the Food Legacy project has now been established and the website is at: www.foodlegacy.org.
Since 2009, Sustain, with several member organisations and sustainable food certification bodies, have contributed extensively to developing the standards to be applied to food served at the London 2012 Games. This quarter, we have continued to support opportunities for the several sustainable food certification bodies named in the London 2012 Food Vision standards to promote their standards at the Games. LOCOG has started to champion the possibility of displaying sustainability logos to visitors at the Games – a proposal that would need International Olympic Committee approval due to marketing restrictions associated with London 2012 sponsorship rights.
Sustain has also been working extensively to develop the new Food Legacy programme (website: www.foodlegacy.org), which was launched with a press release via the London Mayor’s press office on 6 October. The programme aims to inspire, inform and provide practical assistance, to help more caterers and food suppliers achieve the ambitions of the London 2012 Food Vision.
In addition, excellent progress continues to be made with promoting the adoption of sustainable fish policies by catering organisations and restaurants, via the Sustainable Fish City campaign: www.sustainablefishcity.net.
There are two distinct elements to Sustain’s work on food for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These are:
- Influencing health and sustainability standards for food at the Games themselves
- Using the link with the Games to inspire a sustainable food legacy.
Responsibility for food served at the Games – to athletes, visitors and staff – resides with the London 2012 organisers LOCOG. Sustain advised on the food standards, adopted as the London 2012 Food Vision in December 2009. Sustain’s role has now shifted to focusing on:
- Working with the London Food Board to support member organisations to get more local and sustainable food to be used by the top caterers for London 2012
- Promoting appropriate advice and support to help London 2012 meet its health and sustainability commitments verifiably.
- Helping to compile case study materials, to influence future Games and other events organisers to adopt a similar ambition and approach to healthy and sustainable food.
Plans are progressing apace for the launch of a Food Legacy 2012 programme. The Greater London Authority food team and the London 2012 organisers LOCOG have both pledged financial contributions to help employ a member of staff to pursue a high-profile programme of work that will:
- Promote widespread uptake of the London 2012 Food Vision standards by the catering sector using a Food Legacy 2012 pledge
- Systematically approach caterers and their clients to adopt the London 2012 Food Vision standards and direct them to the organisations and services that can help them do so
- Promote commercial opportunities for small- and medium-sized food businesses and social enterprises, for events and activities associated with London 2012, and which fall outside the direct responsibility and remit of LOCOG.
- Promote online food finders to caterers, to raise the profile of produce from smaller and sustainable food producers
- Provide a “one stop shop” for information on food opportunities surrounding the Games
- Lay the ground for activities and coordination to continue after the London 2012 Games.
Sustain continues to sit on the London 2012 Food Advisory Group, advising the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) on health and sustainability in their catering policy. LOCOG has been busy over recent months negotiating the major contracts awarded to commercial caterers, for Games visitors, athletes, staff and volunteers, journalists and dignitaries. We understand that all of these major contracts - for the 17 million meals to be served within the Games - have now been awarded. Although all negotiations are confidential, we understand that the large contract caterers have been demonstrating keen interest in achieving the sustainability standards set out in the London 2012 Food Vision. These include commitments to 100% demonstrably sustainable fish; free range eggs; Fairtrade tea, coffee, bananas and sugar; a proportion of Freedom Food chicken and pork; and aspirational aims to serve LEAF-Marque and organic certified food.
Sustain has also been busy discussing with LOCOG and the London Food Board the possibility of running a parallel programme of work to promote opportunities for small- and medium-sized food enterprises, and those that can provide sustainable food, targeting the plethora of events and venues that will be hosting London 2012 related activities before and during the Games. We hope this will also result in a long-term commitment by the foodservice sector to serving sustainable food, contributing to a positive sustainable food legacy for London 2012. These discussions are going very well, with keen interest from the London Food Board's Business & Commerce group and the London Mayor's food advisor Rosie Boycott and her Food Team in supporting such activities.
We are also participating in discussions and information exchanges with several Sustain members keen to set up 'meet the buyer' type events with London 2012 caterers, and to support high-profile publicity for sustainable food and the various sustainability certification programmes at the Games.
Sustainable Fish City
As Sustain and its members had done so much of the work to secure the "demonstrably sustainable fish" commitment by London 2012, we chose to crack ahead with launching the Sustainable Fish City in January 2011, to build on the excellent relationships and momentum we had already built. We hope that work on other sustainable food elements of London 2012 will be pursued with similar enthusiasm and energy, and will do our best to encourage this to happen!
The campaign launched on 11 January with the backing of the London mayor’s food advisor Rosie Boycott and a number of high profile supporters, including the National Trust. Since then the number of caterers signing the pledge has increased steadily. London’s universities have been particularly keen supporters, with 11 Sustainable Fish City pledge signatories so far. Several have also worked with their student communities to raise awareness about sustainable fish issues.
Restaurants have also been keen to sign up, with high street names such as Carluccio’s, Leon and Wahaca and luxury dining such as the D&D London Restaurants group. The second largest caterer in the UK, Sodexo, has also agreed to become a pledge signatory.
This followed our success at the end of 2010, helping the London Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, the London Fire Brigade and the Greater London Authority to adopt a “demonstrably sustainable fish” policy for their own catering, in line with the policy commitments set out by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Catering businesses have signed up to a pledge that they will:
- Avoid the worst: Telling their supplier or caterer to remove endangered species from menus and catering – those rated as ‘fish to avoid’ by the Marine Conservation Society: www.fishonline.org/advice/avoid/
- Promote the best: Serving sustainably managed fish – Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish, and those rated as ‘fish to eat’ by the Marine Conservation Society: www.fishonline.org/advice/eat/
- Improve the rest: Telling their supplier or caterer they want to serve only sustainable fish – with the help of organisations such as Good Catch: www.goodcatch.org.uk and the Marine Stewardship Council: www.msc.org
The Sustainable Fish City website has attracted over ten thousand page views since the launch, and has been greatly boosted by links with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign and production team. Other press coverage has ranged from trade journals to a feature on the popular Food Channel website. Many of the participating universities have also been displaying bespoke posters supporting the campaign. The project officer Jon Walker, with support from a volunteer, have also attended events to spread the message to staff and students at Kingston University, City University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (with the Marine Stewardship Council).
Jon and Kath are pursuing fundraising options, and in February received the good news that the BBC Wildlife Fund (part of the BBC Wildlife Magazine) has confirmed a contribution to the campaign to build on the work specifically with higher education institutions in London. The Waterloo Foundation has also made a contribution to the campaign to develop a smartphone application and associated promotional work.