Bath & North East Somerset Council is working on a pioneering new way of supplying healthy food to primary schools across the area, that will benefit schools, pupils and local food producers.
The Council already runs a very successful catering service supplying meals to primary schools, as well as some local nurseries.
In the past, a traditional procurement approach has been taken with one supplier appointed for each food category.
But, having discussed this with local food suppliers, the Council is putting in place a new system that will allow more small producers to supply local fresh produce.
The key benefits of the new approach will be:
- Local, healthy food for local primary school children (with the potential to roll out to academies too);
- Increased options for seasonal produce on the menu;
- Greater opportunities for local producers and suppliers to supply schools; resulting in a wider choice of suppliers;
- Consolidation of orders and one delivery drop; meaning a reduction in carbon emissions.
Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “We’re making the process of supplying fresh food simpler for small, independent producers. This will allow many more local producers to play a part in supplying healthy food to local schools for the first time.
“It will also mean that our school meals service can source more foods from a wider range of producers and farmers. This increases choice for cooks, and will help them to provide fresher, more nutritious foods to children as well as improving value for money for schools.”
Schools already taking the Council’s school meal service will automatically benefit from the new way of working, but other primary schools are welcome to benefit too.
They will be able to join the Council’s new contract, which will simplify their procurement and help them save money, by benefiting from the economies of scale.
The Council is working with Bristol-based, independent, online food store Fresh-Range to pilot the new system, with Fresh-Range being responsible for all orders and deliveries.
Rich Osborn, founder and director of Fresh-Range, said: “Working with us means that school cooks will be able to order produce from dozens of local producers and suppliers with just one delivery straight to the school kitchen when they need it.
“This makes fresher locally-sourced produce on the plates for children a routine reality.”
The three-year pilot starts in late July, with contracts being awarded at the end of June.
Food producers interested in finding out more should contact Linda McCalister on 01225 477273.
The new procurement process will be launched at a ‘School Food Cook-off’ being held as part of Food Connections in Bristol on Saturday 30th April.
Teams of children from two primary schools in Bath and North East Somerset will design their own healthy recipes, using fresh ingredients that come within the school dinner budget.
They will be assisted by their own school cooks, as well as Jo Ingleby, BBC Cook of the year 2015, and Glyn Owen from Kids and Food.
The event will be held from 2-3pm in Bristol City Centre. It is a free event but places can be reserved at www.bristolfoodconnections.com.
The new initiative will also be promoted at farmers’ markets across Bath and North East Somerset to encourage more local suppliers to get involved and reap the rewards.