Food should be fresh, prepared locally and sourced locally where possible. Mains-fed water coolers should be provided, minimising the use of bottled water. Public bodies should produce annual reports giving clear ‘global footprint’ type information on all aspects of their food use, including e.g. % of fresh, local food, progress on waste minimisation and recycling etc.
Universal free school meals should be recognised and adopted as a major contributor to improving health and tackling childhood obesity. The aim for all public sector catering should be to give a daily option of an organic/ethically produced main meal, ideally locally sourced. Vending machines on school/hospital premises should be used for healthy alternatives, not junk/fast food.
3. Social Justice
Fair trade food should be used where possible, with targets of 50% by 2010 where relevant fair trade products are available. Decisions about menu options should give consideration to providing less meat-intensive diets, with more fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables and sustainable fish. Animal welfare must be prioritised, with an aim for animal produce of using only recognised farm assured schemes or organic schemes by 2015.
All food must meet quality nutritional standards, monitored by relevant regulators. This involves excellence in procurement and in staff training and conditions. The top priority must be the contribution of food to health and wellbeing, with recognition of the folly of previous policies that pursued Compulsory Competitive Tendering, privatisation, PFI and outsourcing – cutting standards and employment conditions, increasing the use of cook-chill and cook-freeze food, and allowing ‘fast’ and junk food in schools and hospitals. The public must have access to clear relevant information about food, including via labelling and annual reports.
Quality training and proper pay and employment conditions for the sector, including training in environmental factors as part of ‘green workplaces’. Lessons for young people in primary and secondary schools about the food chain, sustainability and preparation of healthy meals. Public awareness campaigns on healthy diets, tied in with support to local food co-operatives and similar initiatives to improve access to quality food for the most vulnerable.
See also: Source school (and hospital) dinners locally, like East Ayrshire – UNISON (or archive site)