EFRA Committee inquiry on public sector food procurement

EFRA Committee inquiry on public sector food procurement
1 September 2020
We have submitted our response to the House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Inquiry into Public Sector Procurement of Food.

Our response focussed on school food and highlighted how healthy eating outcomes can be achieved through mandatory standards.  Where these standards are voluntary, there appears to be a lower level of compliance, and the potential for improvement in nutrient intake is lost.

In our response we outline what we believe should be the key priorities for future food procurement, including:

  • Adequate funding for school meals -  Universal Infant Free School Meals were introduced in September 2014 with a budget of £2.30 per meal but this has not risen in line with inflation, and the increase of 4p is not enough. 

  • Introducing a plant-based day as part of the forthcoming update to school food standards - This would address the need to increase children’s intake of fibre (as identified in the Childhood Obesity Plan) and make menus more climate friendly.

  • Improvements to minimum standards across the whole public sector - this is a vital part of the process of ensuring that school food is healthy, nutritious and climate-friendly.

  • A commitment to local horticulture - Mandating the use of local, seasonal, pesticide-free produce would support local growers, improve quality and reduce waste.

  • Removing bottled water from school food contracts - this ensures children on FSM are not using their limited funds to purchase bottled water, and helps make schools more climate-friendly.

Our response also covers the need to keep sub-standard food out of public sector contracts; as well as the importance of putting money back into local economies, and creating a more resilient supply chain. You can read our full submission here.