Transforming catering and procurement and revitalizing local and sustainable food supply chains

With nearly 50% of all food eaten outside the home, catering and procurement offers one of the most effective ways to drive large scale changes in healthy and sustainable food. Plymouth is already engaged in a range of positive changes in relation to procurement, e.g. school meals service, hospital and care homes.

Our ambition is to transform catering and food procurement in Plymouth, with focus on locally produced, processed and distributed food wherever possible. Our aim is to increase access to locally produced food by ‘devising a system that makes local food an available, accessible and affordable option for local people’ (Soil Association, 2000).  Locally-sourced nutritious food offers a number of benefits, including healthier diets, local markets for local producers, lower food miles as well as a better understanding between producers and consumers ‘re-localising the food chain is one way to reconnect it’ (The Regeneration Institute, Cardiff University).

Whilst there are already lots of exciting things happening in the city to transform catering and food procurement led by Food Plymouth and our partners, there are a number of key things we can do to transform catering and food procurement, including:

  1. Establishing a food procurement working group
  2. Adopting a city-wide Sustainable Food Procurement policy
  3. Persuading individual organisations to adopt sustainable food policies
  4. Encouraging caterers to achieve accreditation, tracking accreditation and promoting further uptake
  5. Helping procurement officers source more local food
  6. Helping small food businesses access local procurement
  7. Helping restaurants source more healthy and sustainable food

Best Food Forward Awards for Plymouth caterers

Building upon the success of the Food Plymouth Awards in 2014, November 2023 saw the launch of the Best Food Forward Awards for caterers. A collaboration between Food Plymouth and the Public Health team at Plymouth City Council, the awards scheme sets out to recognise and celebrate hospitality settings making healthy, sustainable and local food a priority in Plymouth.

The awards scheme has two streams, being open to (a) food businesses catering for the general public and also to (b) kitchens and canteens serving specific settings such as health care, social care or education or workplace settings that serve specific groups rather than the general public.

In each case, caterers are invited to complete a dedicated survey covering action areas relating to encouraging healthier eating and supporting communities, to determine qualification for either a Bronze or Silver Award. A tailored process for businesses and organisations to progress onwards to Gold Award is in development. Specific action areas around health include practices around sugar, salt, fats and oils, boosting fruit, veg and fibre, and promoting healthier options to consumers. Those included in the supporting communities section cover accessibility, diverse community needs, ethical sourcing and supporting the local economy.

For full details of how to get involved, visit the dedicated webpage here.

Caterers putting Plymouth's Best Food Forward, together - with associated logos.