THE UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, has called on Governments to exploit the full potential of public food procurement to improve access to good food for the most vulnerable, boost the economy and support farmers.
Reminding us that countries in Europe spend an average of 12% of GDP on public procurement, De Schutter makes the case for investing in sustainable and local food procurement from small scale farmers, because this will not only have positive outcomes in terms of health and education, but will also help promote a viable and sustainable small-scale farming sector.
De Schutter draws on evidence of good procurement practice in the UK, including an independent evaluation of the impact of the Soil Association’s Food for Life Partnership programme to transform food culture in the UK’s schools, which found a social, economic and environmental return on investment of more than £3 for every £1 invested in a Food for Life Catering Mark silver or gold menu, mostly in the form of new jobs in the local economy.
De Schutter also identifies Food for Life Partnership’s whole school approach, now being rolled out across the UK by the government-backed School Food Plan, as a positive example of schemes that “promote diversified diets and facilitate access to nutritious, micro-nutrient-rich fresh foods, especially for vulnerable poor consumers.”
Rob Percival, Soil Association policy officer comments, “De Schutter’s report shines a welcome light on the transformative potential of public food procurement, for our health, the economy and the environment. Nearly one million Food for Life Catering Mark meals are served every day in places where good food is needed most, in schools, hospitals, care homes, universities and staff canteens– making good, fresh, traceable, healthy food accessible to everyone, wherever and whoever they are.”