North Lancashire’s FoodFutures has published a new report that explores how local institutions in Lancashire and Leeds are spending money on food through a process known as procurement.

Procurement by local institutions (such as universities, councils and hospitals ) can be a powerful tool for ensuring that money stays in the local food economy – from farmer to baker.

As part of the report, FoodFutures interviewed procurement and catering teams at Lancaster University and Lancashire Schools Catering to find out how they are supporting local food producers whilst better understanding the challenges for including more local and sustainable food on their menus.

We found stories to celebrate locally.

Lancashire Schools Catering are holders of a Silver Food for Life Catering Mark which means that 100% of their suppliers are classified as local, and over 80% of the food is freshly prepared and cooked on site.

The catering team at Lancaster University is developing a sustainable good food policy which will be based around the ‘Food for Life’ certification criteria around sourcing locally, facilitating ethical supply chains and using fresh produce. The team also says it hopes to go further in terms of developing elements around healthy diets and plant-based foods.

Both organisations are also working with small scale local producers to enable them to access procurement contracts and they actively encourage suppliers to incorporate more elements around environmental sustainability. However, interviewees were concerned that increasing the number of hoops that small businesses have to jump through can be off-putting and challenging.

If organisations want to include more local suppliers then procurement teams need to be given the resources to engage and support them.

Catering teams are currently limited by their budgets and cost is still the primary factor determining the type of food procured. If we want more institutions to invest in local, sustainably produced food then we need to ask organisations to do this – whether it be your child’s local school, your workplace or by putting pressure on central government to increase spending on public sector food procurement.

As North Lancashire’s food partnership we can also help to increase the visibility of local producers and work with them develop mission oriented approaches that open up access to market. For example, by looking to develop a local food hub that enables small-scale producers to access larger contracts whilst cutting costs associated with transport and administration.

To read the report or to get involved with FoodFutures procurement report visit foodfutures.org.uk/our-partnership/procurement/ or email ellen@lessuk.org

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