Transforming catering and food procurement


Use the links below for useful information, toolkits and guides to help you take action.

1. Establish a food procurement working group

NHS Procurement and Food Network enables users to share best practice in order to promote sustainable food and implement sustainable procurement strategies.

2. Adopt a city-wide Sustainable Food Procurement policy

Buying a Better World explains the importance of incorporating sustainability thinking into buying decisions and provides case studies and action planning tips.

Professor Kevin Morgan's paper entitled Good Food for All, presented at the Senedd (the home of the Welsh Government), calls for concerted action to promote good food across the public sector.  

The Fairtrade Foundation provides resources and information for local authorities on developing Fairtrade procurement policies and gaining Fairtrade Town status.

3. Persuade individual organisations to adopt sustainable food policies

Caroline Walker Trust produced a report Nutritional Guidelines for Food Served in Public Institutions for the Food Standards Agency.

CIWF and London Food Link are campaigning to get London councils to drop cage cruelty from the menu in schools and council buildings.

Cymraeg Vending has developed JuiceBox vending machines which provide a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks vending.

Defra's Great Food Plan toolkit contains useful case studies and other information on sustainable purchasing for procurement managers.

Health Care Without Harm organised a webinar on 'Transforming hospital food towards a more sustainable future' (20 Nov 2018).

Local Government Association has published a series of case studies showing county councils' actions to promote healthier food choices in public settings and sign-posts to useful resoruces.

National Farmer's Union published a guide for quality assurance schemes explaining how each one relates to sustainable food categories.

Public Health England have published Encouraging healthier ‘out of home’ food provision toolkit to support local councils and independent food businesses to provide and promote healthier options.  

Refill is a campaign that makes it easy to refill a reusable water bottle instead of buying a plastic one.

Sugar Smart campaign has resources on removing fizzy drinks from vending machines and displaying information about the amount of sugar in everyday food and drink.

Sustain’s Sustainable food: a guide for hospitals covers why and how hospitals should improve the sustainability of the food they provide.

Sustain has developed a model sustainable food policy to help public agencies and other large organisations improve their food procurement.

Sustain produced  a Good Food at Work guide to improve the catering in canteens or, for smaller organisations, the food you buy in for meetings and events. It looks at influencing others from staff to clients and Board members.

Sustainable Fish City campaign provides advice for policy makers on adopting sustainable fish procurement policies. aims to reduce the use of environmentally damaging bottled water and provides advice on how to achieve it.

The Taps are Turning describes the global and domestic shift toward tap water only policies in the private and public sector.

University of Bristol's policy briefing offers practical tips to leisure operators, schools, worksite catering procurement managers, food vendors, Local Government Associations and Wellbeing Boards to improve the balance of products provided in vending machines (e.g. in leisure venues, hospitals and workplaces), as a way to tackle obesity.

Wales’ Think Healthy Vending provides advice on the use of refrigerated vending machines in schools as part of a whole school approach to food and nutrition.

4. Encourage caterers to achieve accreditation

Compassion in World Farming gives awards to caterers for sourcing higher animal welfare products including Good Egg, Good Chicken, Good Dairy and Good Pig.

Fairtrade Foundation offers a Fairtrade ‘license’ to caterers committed to using Fairtrade products and provides support on promoting this to their customers.

Food For Life Served Here provides an independent step-wise accreditation for caterers providing healthy, local, sustainable and ethical meals.

Green Kitchen Standard recognises caterers that are making positive steps to sustainably manage their energy, water and waste.

Marine Stewardship Council provides ‘chain of custody’ accreditation to caterers sourcing MSC certified fish.

Sustainable Fish Cities is a campaign to promote and recognise places and individual caterers that are committed to using only sustainably sourced fish. 

5. Track accreditation and promote further uptake

See some of the city initiatives working to achieve this.

6. Help procurement officers source more local food

Food for Life Supplier Scheme is a certified supplier list to make it easier for caterers to find products to help meet the Food for Life Served Here standards.

Sustain maintains a number of searchable directories of local and sustainable food and drink producers for caterers, hospitality, events organisers and restaurants.

7. Help small food businesses access procurement markets

DEFRA's plan for public procurement of food and catering aims to support opportunities for smaller suppliers and British produce/.

DEFRA’s Selling to the Public Sector: A guide to the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative for farmers and growers.

Scotland review of the Public Sector Food Procurement in Scotland highlights the barriers encountered by local producers and SMEs in accessing procurement markets.

8. Help restaurants source more healthy and sustainable food

Food Ethics Council explores the business case for adopting and promoting sustainable diets in the foodservice sector.

Good Catch provides practical information and events for chefs, caterers and restaurateurs, making it easier for them to serve more sustainable seafood.

Marine Stewardship Council works to support restaurants who are interested in offering MSC certified fish on the menu.

Pisces Responsible Fish Restaurants is a restaurant-led initiative that seeks out and links sustainable fishermen with chefs.


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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