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Real Bread on the menu

Real Bread Campaign workshop for school cooks and teachers

Real Bread Campaign workshop for school cooks and teachers

Taxpayers' money should be spent on Real Bread, baked as locally as possible!

One of the key aims of the Real Bread Campaign during its first four years was to help get Real Bread on the Menu of more public sector organisations and food access projects.

These include school, nursery and university canteens, meals on wheels services, hospital meals, care homes, prison food, food co-operatives, local veg box schemes, and community cafes.

Between 2009 and 2013, our work shared the whys and hows of teaching Lessons in Loaf and putting Real Bread on the Menu with people from nearly 100 institutions and other organisations around the UK.

See also:

Real Bread is Food for Life!

In September 2013, the Real Bread Campaign was proud to announce that its work helped to ensure that schools, hospitals and all other caterers serving Real Bread will earn points towards silver and gold Food for Life Catering Mark certification from The Soil Association.

Caterers able to show that they serve what the Campaign defines as Real Bread (simply that it was made using no so-called processing aids or any other artificial additives) at least once a week will now gain ten points towards the silver and gold Catering Mark.

This is great news for caterers and even better news for their customers who’ll be able to choose and enjoy delicious Real Bread! We hope to see thousands of Food for Life Catering Mark holders going further than once a week by serving Real Bread with every meal and making improvements beyond simply kicking the additive habit.

Read all about Real Bread in the Food for Life Catering Mark at:

Why get Real?

Though more and more caterers are taking positive steps in terms of health, nutrition and ethical sourcing, bread, a staple of our diet, often gets overlooked.

To be able to give your customers a strong, positive message about the bread you offer, it’s time to get Real.

School pupils, hospital patients, the elderly and people who rely on food access projects are arguably the members of society most in need of nutritious, healthy food. Their ability to choose whether or not to eat the food offered by such institutions and organisations can be limited or,  in some cases, non-existent.

With no mandatory health, animal welfare, ethical or environmental standards in place for the food that is bought by many public sector institutions with the taxes YOU PAY, a contract may well go to a supplier simply on the basis of the lowest price.  See Sustain's Good Food for our Money for more on this issue. Though more and more caterers are taking positive steps in terms of health, nutrition and ethical sourcing, bread, a staple of our diet, often gets overlooked.

It's time people were allowed to choose Real Bread.


By buying in from a Real Bread baker or baking in-house.

We are encouraging more public sector caterers and food-access projects to bake their own Real Bread or buy it in from local independent bakeries.

The bottom line

Making Real Bread on site could represent a cost saving.  The raw ingredients are inexpensive and as cooks are free to carry out other tasks during mixing, rising and baking, labour time is relatively short.

Though a factory loaf might have a lower price at till than bought-in Real Bread, as outlined below, it could have higher hidden costs.

What are the hidden costs? 

The majority of industrial loaf production entails the use of artificial additives and can involve larger doses of salt, fat and yeast than required in Real Bread baking. Undeclared added enzymes and a spraying of an anti-fungal agent, such as calcium propionate, might also be used.

Though all legal food additives and processing aids have been declared safe, each has only been tested in isolation over relatively (in terms of human history) short periods.  What has not and might never be understood is what effect the cocktail of artificial additives we consume might have on the human body over time.

Furthermore, opinion as to what is safe can change, and history is littered with substances that were once defended by the food industry but later withdrawn or even banned.  For example, despite concerns over chemical bleaching of bread flour having been raised since at least as far back as the 1950s, it was only in 1999 that this long-established practice was banned in the UK; and even though alarm bells have been ringing since 1984 over trans fats (which raise the type of cholesterol in the blood that increases the risk of heart disease) found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, this synthesised substance is still often used in industrial loaves.

Beyond this, factory loaves are generally produced using a no-time method and there is a growing body of evidence that making bread using traditional longer fermentation times has a variety of health and nutritional benefits.

Why become a local loaf lover?

A local loaf of Real Bread represents true value for money.

The baking of Real Bread on site or nearby adds skills and further meaning to jobs for members of your own local community and perhaps even offer new employment opportunities.  Wages for local people will be of greater benefit to the local economy and money spent with local businesses is more likely to be reinvested locally than if used to purchase loaves from a supplier based further afield.

Water accounts for a large percentage of bread’s weight. It stands to reason that the water transport costs (financial and environmental) of baking bread at or close to the place it is eaten will be lower than if transporting this water by road over greater distances in finished loaves.

Anything else?

Beyond ditching the unnecessary additives, you can choose Real Bread made with any or all of the following:

  • Higher fibre flours, even in white bread.
  • Salt levels at or below the Food Standards Agency’s 1% target.
  • Lower levels of (or no) fat in plain bread.
  • No added sugar in plain bread.
  • Organic ingredients.
  • Locally produced flour.
  • Fairtrade ingredients in enriched breads.
  • Longer dough fermentation for flavour and possible health benefits.

Bread in the School Food Regulations

The School Food Regulations 2014 come into effect in England in January 2015. It's great that they recognise the importance of bread but sadly they don't guarantee all children will be eating Real Bread with every meal. 

The Real Bread Campaign's main concern is that the Regulations do not require Real Bread to be served, leaving children at risk of being offered artificial-additive-laden products instead.

Once this glaring oversight is rectified, our remaining concerns are that the Regulations:

  • Merely state that bread must be available every day, rather than served with every meal.
  • Do not prevent caterers to charge extra for bread, creating a further barrier to all children eating it.
  • Require it to be served with 'no added fat or oil' but don't restrict or prohibit it being used as an ingredient, where the added fat content would become invisible.
  • Only steer caterers towards serving starchy foods 'made with or containing whole unprocessed grains', rather than specifically encouraging them to serve wholemeal Real Bread. 

On this last point, while wholemeal bread has a legal definition, permitting only wholemeal flour to be used to make it, wholegrain has no such definition. As we reported in 'A Wholegrain of Truth?' manufacturers can get away with using the term 'wholemeal' to market loaves with very little wholemeal flour.

You can read what the Real Bread Campaign would like the Regualtions to require below.

You can read the draft Regulations and the government's guidance notes here.

Bread procurement criteria

Here are the Real Bread Campaign's suggestions for standards that caterers should set for bread made or bought with taxpayers' money to be served in schools, hospitals, care homes, council office canteens, prisons etc.

These can be adapted for your own use and we'd love to hear from councils, public sector caterers, or anyone else who has their own version.

We understand that it might not always be possible to meet all of these straight away, or at all, but we urge caterers to incorporate as many as possible to their ethical/healthy/sustainable food policies and work towards meeting them as quickly as possible.

Our suggested criteria

Beyond the legal requirement for the composition of bread products to comply with the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 (as amended):

  1. Bread must meet the Real Bread Campaign’s basic criterion of being produced without the use of any artificial additives or processing aids. (i)
  2. To support local employment and economy, the preference for bought-in Real Bread is that it should be supplied by an independently-owned bakery that is as local as possible.
  3. The preference is wholemeal bread, or at least bread with a higher fibre and natural vitamin/mineral content higher than roller-milled white.
  4. The preference is for flour and bread products to have been produced from wheat that has been grown and milled as locally as possible to the point of serving. 
  5. The preference is for organic flour or Real Bread.
  6. The sodium in bread should ideally be 350mg/100g and no more than 400mg/100g (i.e. the Food Standards Agency’s target of maximum 1% salt). 
  7. The preference is for bread to be produced without the use of added fat or sugars. (ii) This provision does not apply to enriched breads such as brioche, focaccia etc.

(i) The Real Bread Campaign defines Real Bread as made using flour, water, yeast (naturally occurring or cultured, except in unleavened flat breads) and salt. Additional ingredients are permitted as long as they are natural, such as seeds, nuts, eggs, cheese, herbs, oils, butter and dried fruits.

(ii) The preference might be to limit the added fat content, rather than exclude it entirely.  The preference might also include a stipulation of the type of fat - e.g. any palm oil/fat (this can be labelled simple as 'vegetable') to come from certified sustainable sources; no animal fats etc.

Case studies

Public sector
We have published case studies of good work being done in schools, universities, prisons and hospitals.

If you would like us to add your own examples of good practice when it comes to the bread you serve in a public sector institution, please email realbread [at]

Food access
We have also published details of people who are tackling issues of food access by setting up their own microbakeries, often baking in the own homes. You can read their stories here and here.

Training events

Between July 2009 and June 2013, the Real Bread Campaign arranged workshops to help public sector canteens and local food access / community food charities and not-for-profit projects put Real Bread on the Menu.

Led by some of the most well-respected bakers and educators in the country, these were fantastic opportunities for cooks working in such institutions, companies or organisations that don't bake their own Real Bread but which are equipped and committed to start doing so.

Each workshop comprised the whys and hows of making Real Bread available through their work, and included an introductory lesson in basic Real Bread making skills to give people confidence to get baking.

Future training events

As the funding for this strand of work ended in June 2013, we have no other workshops for public sector caterers or food access projects planned but please see:


Panary is supporting the Real Bread Campaign's mission to help put Real Bread on the Menu of more public sector canteens around the country by offering cooks a generous 30% discount on selected courses.

Under the guidance of Paul Merry, a renowned master baker and teacher with over thirty years of experience, you will learn about Real Bread in the atmosphere of a working watermill at in rural Dorset.

If you're a cook in a public sector institution (e.g. a school or care home) kitchen that is equipped to bake, but which doesn't currently make its own bread from scratch, please complete and return this application form to the Real Bread Campaign.

We'll then advise if you're eligible for the discount and put you in touch with Panary to arrange a date.

Other training

If you are a public sector cook or caterer and would like to be the first to find out details of other classes as we announce them, please complete and return this application form.

Past training events

Crumb Together: Real Bread workshop for community cafes/enterprises
A workshop on 25 June 2013 hosted by Ethical Eats, The Better Health Bakery, The Hornbeam Bakers' Collective and the Real Bread Campaign. The aim was to help community cafés, caterers and food projects to make Real Bread available to their customers, either by baking it themselves or buying from a local, independent bakery.

Real Bread for food co-ops

In March and April 2012, the Real Bread Campaign teamed up with sibling Sustain project Food Coops to run a series of regional workshops for people representing:

  • food buying co-operatives registered with Food Coops
  • other local food access / community food charities/projects.

Each workshop provided an introductory lesson in basic Real Bread making skills to give people the confidence to start baking and making Real Bread available through their projects.

Manchester 26 May  2012

15 April 2012, London

In support of the Campaign's work, Pilar Lopez and co. of The Hornbeam Bakers' Collective kindly arranged an exclusive session of their frequent Real Bread workshops at The Hornbeam, E17.  The eight attendees included people from St. Hilda's East Community Centre, The Hive Veg Bag Scheme, Lea Court Food Family, True Food Community Co-op, Backyard Food Group, and Mind, Body & Soul.

Pilar said 'It was brilliant. We had a great time and people were very engaged and baked beautiful loaves and rolls and good pizza.'

Martine of Mind, Body and Soul said: 'The class at Hornbeam was excellent and cleared up a lot of the problems I'd been having (as the cook here said 'it's bread you could kill with'), basically too much extra flour, fear of wet hands and not getting it out of the tin and turning it over to cook through.  The best for me though was being in the presence of Pilar - an inspired soul. Thanks again for all you're doing.'

30 March 2012, Durham

Seven people from Come Dine at Ours, Durham Food Co-op, Fruitful Durham, Alington House Community Café and Transition Durham/Durham Local Food Group came along to this Food Coops Real Bread workshop hosted by St. Antony's Priory, and run by 'The Bread Lady' Lesley Suddes.

28 March 2012, Bristol

Hosted by Square Food Foundation, the second of our workshops funded by Sustain's Food Coops project was attended by five people from Lockleaze Larder, Weston-super-Mare Food Buying Group, Fishponds Co-op and Food For All Co-operative. You can see pictures from the event on the Food Coops facebook page.

17 March 2012, Sheffield

Hosted by Regather and run by Chris Baldwin from Cat Lane Bakery, this was the first of a run of Real Bread workshops funded by Sustain's Food Coops project.

In all, ten people from the food-buying co-operatives Regather, Chesterfield Food Hub and HebVeg learned Real Bread making skills.  You can see Chris Baldwin's pictures from the workshop here.

12 March 2012, London

Real Bread Campaign member Vincent Talleu of Aston's Organic Bakery passed on Real Bread skills to five members of the charity Food Cycle.


"I just wanted to extend our thanks for yesterday. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and I must say that the bread we made was absolutely lovely! Please pass our thanks on to Vincent the Master Baker! He was amazing and such a great instructor."

"Likewise, thanks very much to both of you for coming down to the cafe, it was really enjoyable, informative and felt like a very professional operation. I look forward to making some tasty bread in the coming weeks :)"

You can see photos here.

9 March 2011, London

Our first Real Bread public sector bread making workshop a great success. Generously hosted by Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency, Paul Rhodes of the eponymous artisan bakery and his head baker Yann Legallais kindly gave up their day to pass bread making skills on to thirteen would-be bakers from public sector kitchens. Attendees included primary school caterers, council catering managers, university chefs, and food access project caterers. The morning consisted of learning about sourdough starters, making tin loaves, pizza dough, and whole wheat batards.  After a lunch of delicious pizza made by the attendees themselves, the afternoon continued with rolling and shaping skills as well as various finishing techniques.  At the end of the day, Tracey Simmons from Pabulum Catering discussed how her organisation already bakes Real Bread in all of its school kitchens and what kind of time, labour, and cost considerations are involved in implementing Real Bread making.

Feedback from some of the participants:

"I was chuffed to take home my well risen crusty loaf!  Thanks for the experience."

"The hands on making of loaves and being able to tap into the knowledge of Paul and Jan were highlights.  Format worked well; it was good to have access to master bakers and to be able to eat the bread for lunch.  Thank you!"

"Brilliant!  Packed with much more than I thought, very thorough, great quality teaching.  I feel more confident about baking bread.  Very inspiring; I can't wait to bake my first loaf.  I will pass info I've learned onto my co-bakers."

"Great, informative introduction to breadmaking.  Venue is a smashing location for the purpose."

"The venue was ideal for a practical workshop.  The demonstrations were great and I liked the opportunity to have a go at bread making with the assistance from an expert bread maker on hand.  The workshop has given me the confidence to pass on the knowledge I gained."  

Pictures from the day.

Bron Wolfe's blog on the day.

15 December 2010, Shipton Mill, Gloucestershire

As part of our community and public sector work, we secured up to twelve places on baking classes over two days with master baker Clive Mellum of Campaign member Shipton Mill in Gloucestershire.  One project, Family Kitchen in Islington,

December 2010, Talgarth, Powys

Thanks to Peter Cook of SC Price and Sons in Ludlow for sharing some of his experience with the gang at Talgarth Mill in Powys. In conjunction with restoring the town’s watermill, the group are also planning to start a Community Supported Bakery.

Update - The Bakers' Table at Talgarth Mill opened in August 2011.

September 2009 - late 2010, Bedale, Yorkshire

The Campaign project officer provided producers at Keo Films information and introductions to Real Bread experts during the production of what became BBC2's The Big Bread Experiment. Campaign members involved included Duncan Glendinning and Patrick Ryan of The Thoughtful Bread Company as the fledgling bakery's main guides, plus Dan McTiernan of The Handmade Bakery and Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters.

Update - Bread...Actually! opended in June 2010.

Contract opportunities

Sister projects

In addition to the Real Bread Campaign, Sustain runs several projects that work on issues of food in the public sector.

  • Good Food for our Money: calls on government to introduce mandatory health, animal welfare, ethical and environmental standards for the food purchased with your taxes.
  • The Children's Food Campaign:  fights for good food and real food education in every school; protection for children from junk food marketing; and clear food labelling that everyone, including children, can understand.
  • Good Food on the Public Plate: a London Food Board flagship project that works with London's schools, hospitals, universities and large public sector employers to help increase the amount of sustainable food used in the public sector.

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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