Supporting public sector food service to deliver on climate, public health and economic priorities
Food for Life Scotland (FFLS) is a Scottish Government funded programme which supports public sector food service to deliver not only on climate but also on public health and economic priorities. With the concurrent crises of pandemic, recession and climate emergency, programmes such as FFLS that can support a green recovery are increasingly relevant to Scotland’s public sector.
Delivered by organic food and farming charity The Soil Association, FFLS supports Scotland’s local authorities to serve freshly prepared, locally sourced and environmentally sustainable school meals through the Food for Life Served Here (FFLSH) award scheme. The award allows local authorities to take a staged approach to improving the quality of the food they serve. The Bronze award focuses on freshly prepared and seasonal food that’s free from undesirable additives, and on sourcing less but better quality local meat. Silver and Gold reward serving more locally sourced and climate-friendly food, such as organic.
At the heart of the FFLSH approach is the concept of a sustainable diet, which seeks to safeguard the natural environment as well as human health. Public procurement of sustainable food is one of the most effective mechanisms at our disposal to drive transformation in food production and supply. Agriculture and food are widely acknowledged to be responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. With increasing public awareness of the central role of the food system in the climate emergency, the public sector cannot ignore the impact of the food they serve. In an average year the public sector in Scotland spends almost £150 million on food and drink.
Food sustainability award for fourteen Scottish local authorities
Fourteen local authorities in Scotland hold the FFLSH award for their primary school meal service. These local authorities provide exciting examples of public sector best practice in relation to food sustainability. For example, North Ayrshire Council is one of only two local authorities in Scotland to hold the prestigious Gold award. The Council sources eggs and seasonal vegetables for schools on the island of Arran from a small community supported agriculture project on the island. In doing so, the Council is supporting the local community and providing sustainably produced good food grown within miles of the schools in which it is served. In doing so, the Council is supporting the local community and providing sustainably produced good food grown within a few miles of the schools in which it is served.
As encouraging as it is to see these fourteen local authorities take steps towards more sustainable school meals, there is still much to do in tackling the impact of public sector food. Local government climate emergency declarations and the resulting strategies all too often fail to connect catering to sustainability policy. The FFLSH award provides an accessible but robust framework with which to tackle this important issue.