Transforming catering and food procurement

City initiatives

Use the links below to see practical examples of how places around the UK are taking action.

1. Establish a food procurement working group

Brighton and Hove’s Good Food Procurement Group work together to share good practice and increase sustainable procurement in the city.

London’s Contracts Supply Group is a network of boroughs, schools, universities and care services using collective purchasing to buy £15 million of more sustainable food.

Good Food Oxford have convened the Oxfordshire Catering & Procurement Working Group which gathers representatives from higher education, restaurants, healthcare, the catering-contracting industry, tourism and local government.

Scotland’s Sustainable Procurement Working Group brings together sustainable development and procurement officers to tackle sustainable procurement issues.

2. Adopt a city-wide Sustainable Food Procurement policy

Brighton & Hove City Council's policy requiring all Council food procurement contracts over £75k to meet minimum health and sustainability standards.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Local Sustainable Food Strategy: Building Sustainable Development into Food Contracts.

Greater London Authority's healthy and sustainable food commitment for catering provided to London’s police, transport workers, fire brigade and GLA staff.

Lambeth has a responsible procurement guide with a section on procuring healthy and sustainable food.

3. Persuade individual organisations to adopt sustainable food policies

Brighton University’s sustainable food policy covers Fairtrade, tap water, seasonal fruit & veg, organic milk, free-range eggs, sustainable fish and meat and dairy reduction.

Brighton & Hove’s Primary School Meals Service improves lunch experience with a sustainability accreditation (Silver Food For Life Catering Mark), has increased spend in the local economy, helped schools to meet Ofsted criteria, created 118 new jobs since 2011 with no zero hours contracts and helped address food poverty. 

Cardiff has pledged to offer millions of sustainable fish meals to schoolchildren, university students, hospital patients and NHS staff in a campaign to become the world's first Sustainable Fish City.

Cardiff and Vale UHB hospital restaurants and retail catering outlets' vending machines must be 100% compliant with Welsh Government Guidance which provides for healthier/reduced sugar options and health-promoting branding. 

Haringey Council has achieved Good Egg Award for adopting a policy to source only cage-free eggs.

Leeds University students voted in a referendum to ban bottled water from all their bars, cafes and shops.

Liverpool's Food for Thought  is an innovative community-based organisation providing school catering. It has produced six-week menu cycles that have up to three days of meat free meals made from organic and ethically sourced food. One partner school has an entirely vegetarian menu.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust removed fizzy drinks from their vending machines and replaced them with healthier snacks. 

Stockport has been awarded Fairtrade Borough status for its commitment to supporting Fairtrade and sourcing Fairtrade products.

The Royal Liverpool Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust reviewed its Sustainability Plan for 2017-2018 which includes sustainable procurement, promotion of healthier food and a social value approach. Their Food and Drink Strategy includes ambitions to encourage healthy eating via staff restaurants, pricing and positioning, vending machines, communication with food contractors. 

4. Encourage caterers to achieve accreditation

Bournemouth & Poole has become the first Sustainable Fish City thanks to commitments from the Local authority, schools, hospitals, universities, restaurants and workplaces.

Cardiff University became the first University in Wales to receive the bronze Food for Life Catering Mark.

Nottingham University Hospitals is the first NHS Trust to achieve Gold Food for Life Catering Mark.

Plymouth City Council and Oldham Council schools catering services have achieved the Gold Food for Life Catering Mark.

University of Portsmouth has achieved Good Pig, Good Dairy, Good Chicken and Good Egg Awards for its high animal welfare sourcing.

5. Track accreditation and promote further uptake

Sustain’s Good Food for London compares all the London boroughs’ achievements across a range of catering awards and initiatives.

6. Help procurement officers source more local food

Food Plymouth organised a Plymouth Food Expo to bring together food producers and local buyers, including restaurants, hotels, schools and universities.

From Gate to Plate is an article on Sussex Partnership Trust's Local Sourcing Scheme which successfully united small suppliers and growers into a local produce network.

London’s Urban Food Fortnight includes a series of meet the buyer events to help link caterers and buyers with London’s food producers.

7. Help small food businesses access local procurement

Manchester Veg People is a cooperative of local organic growers working with and supplying buyers from restaurants, caterers and public sector organisations.

Sell2Plymouth is an on-line portal through which local small businesses can register for updates on public contracts, including food procurement opportunities.

8. Help restaurants source more healthy and sustainable food

Bristol Poco Café Bar has created a sustainable business model as an exemplar of how a modern business can operate sympathetically to its environment.

South West River Cottage restaurants have set up stringent policies to serve only seasonal, locally and ethically supplied produce.


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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