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As a taxpayer, you pay for what prisoners eat and their educational opportunities.

The Real Bread Campaign believes that your money could be better spent on locally-baked Real Bread.

We also believe that training in Real Bread baking can provide certain prisoners with valuable skills that could increase their chances of meaningful employment after release. It is well-established that employment is a key factor in helping to reduce the risk of re-offending.

The current situation

We understand that the contracts for all food purchased for UK prisons is held by just two companies.

As a start of the process of looking at what improvements there might be to make, on 11 November 2011, we contacted the UK Ministry of Justice to ask for the following information:

  1. I have been unable to find the contracts awarded in 2007 to 3663 and Premier Food (AKA British Bakeries and Hovis) to supply HM Prisons nationally. Could you please send me this information or a link to where I can find them
  2. As these were both four-year contracts, am I correct in thinking that both were due to expire this year? I have been unable to find either notices of extension/renewal or invitations to tender for new contracts, and would therefore also like you help in finding details of the current situation.
  3. How much (if any) choice does each prison have about sourcing bread? Are they bound to Premier Foods and 3663?
  4. Over and above the Bread and Flour Regulations, what are the criteria for bread served by UK prisons? e.g. are there any standards for levels of salt, fibre and added fat or sugar? Is there any reference to artificial additives in the criteria? Is there any non-binding guidance, e.g. a preference for locally-baked bread, locally milled flour, or organic ingredients?
  5. What is the process for a bakery wanting to supply UK prisons?  Other than the criteria for the bread itself, what are those that the company must meet?
  6. Other than HMP Lindholme and The Clink at HMP Highdown, at do any prisons bake all/some of their own bread from scratch in their own kitchens or offer training in craft baking?

We will publish their response when we receive it.

What you can do to help

If you are involved in the prison service and have information on bread procurement, production or of prisoners being taught Real Bread skills, please get in touch.

Case studies

HMP High Down

The Clink restaurant is located in Her Majesty’s Prison High Down in Sutton, Surrey,  operated by The Clink Charity in collaboration with HMP High Down, the Prison Service and the Ministry of Justice. It is the first and only commercial restaurant to be built inside a working British prison to date.  Under the leadership of chef Alberto Crisci it offers prisoners the chance to gain experience and qualifications in professional food preparation, food service and cleaning, as well as in-depth guidance to find full time employment within the hospitality industry upon release.

In early 2011, Real Bread Campaign member Jane Mason of began teaching Clink trainees how to bake Real Bread. You can read updates on the progress of the scheme from Jane in her website blog.

HMP Lindholme

In March 2004, a £1.5m bakery was opened at HMP Lindholme, funded  by the Home Office and Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency.  

A 2008 Ministry of Justice briefing reported that:  'at HMP Lindholme an in-house bakery employed a total of 84 prisoners in 2006 - 2007. Of these prisoners 49 were registered for an NVQ and 64 NVQs (in food and drink manufacturing as well as bakery) were awarded. Four prisoners were released into full-time employment'

In September 2010, the Real Bread Campaign began trying to contact HMP Lindholme by phone to find out more. On 12 November 2010, we emailed the following questions:

  • What types of bread are baked? Rolls, tin loaves for slices/sandwiches, baguettes or other?
  • Units of each per week?
  • Do any or all of the products meet the Campaign's Real Bread criteria, as outlined above?
  • Does baking in-house involve an extra cost or a cost saving in comparison to buying in bread products?
  • If an extra cost, then how has this been justified and/or offset?
  • Does the bakery have an income stream from retail/wholesale or providing services (e.g. training)?
  • What equipment does the bakery have (numbers and types of ovens, mixers, provers, retarders etc)?
  • When was the bakery established?
  • From where did the funding for this come?
  • How many staff does the bakery have?
  • By whom is bakery training provided, to what level, at what cost and from where does the funding come?
  • Of these, how many are inmates and how many employees from outside? 
  • If the bakery staff includes inmates, do you have figures on how many continue in baking after release?
  • If the bakery staff includes inmates, is there a structured therapeutic element to their involvement and are you able to give me any details of this programme and its success - e.g. in terms of improved behaviour?

We followed this up on 18 November 2010, and 6 January 2011, when we were advised ' I will have a look at it for you today' Still having not received a full reply, we followed up again on 5 September 2011 and 11 November 2011.

We will publish their response when we receive it.

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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