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Public sector firms praised as “good eggs” by Rosie Boycott

01 December 2010

Using locally grown, seasonal vegetables and a commitment to buying free range eggs, were among the initiatives that have helped public sector caterers from across London win prestigious Good Food on the Public Plate awards

The public sector serves more than a billion meals a year to school children, hospital patients and the state’s most vulnerable citizens. These awards, presented by at London's City Hall by Rosie Boycott, chair of the London Food Board, went to 22 universities, hospitals and publicly funded bodies that have made great strides to make the food they serve more sustainable, better for the environment and for animal welfare.

The winners have all made one or more significant changes – some, such as the London School of Economics (LSE) have converted to only using free range eggs and composting food waste. Other winners include Sutton Council that is now serving school children fish from certified sustainable sources, and Imperial College that is buying seasonal vegetables from a farm in Kent.

Good Food on the Public Plate, a project run by Sustain and funded by the Greater London Authority, have developed the awards to celebrate non-profitable organisations that are working hard to make sure that the meals they serve not only taste good and are value for money but are beneficial the environment.

Rosie Boycott, said: “We have been hugely impressed by the appetite from organisations to make positive changes to their catering choices, moving us far away from the image of processed, bland and un-tasty canteen food.

Collectively, public sector food budgets have the clout to catalyse significant improvements to food systems and the treatment of animals. Farms that are signed up to assurance schemes are at a distinct advantage when they tender for food contracts.

"The fantastic winners of the Good Food on the Public Plate awards show that public sector food can be delicious, healthy and good for the planet.

"Crucially taking these steps with creativity means good food need not cost the earth at a time when budgets are under increasing pressure. These food champions provide a great example that other organisations should follow.”

Liz Thomas, LSE’s catering manager, said: ‘In circumstances where there is constant pressure on cost reduction it would be easy to ignore sustainability, animal welfare and ethical sourcing. However we are committed to improving the lot of workers and animals in the food chain and reducing negative environmental impact."

Good Food on the Public Plate Project Officer, Jon Walker, said: “London’s public sector institutions are leading the way in the procurement of sustainable food both collaboratively and individually proving it is possible to purchase sustainable food cost effectively."

The Good Food on the Public Plate project reflects the high priority given to public sector food procurement by the London Food Board, which has a procurement steering group which works to embed good practice across London's public sector organisations.

The awards were held at City Hall on 30 November.

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