Just 35 per cent of LEAs know where the food they serve school children is coming from. New FOI requests reveal how much Local Education Authorities that track food procurement are spending on British produce. Polling by YouGov finds that the public overwhelmingly support schools investing in British produce, regardless of price.
A new freedom of information request by the Countryside Alliance can reveal that Local Education Authorities (LEAs) are not placing British food high enough on the procurement agenda. Buying British would improve the quality of food being provided to British school children; thereby improving pupils’ health, concentration and behaviour; it would reduce the environmental damage of cheap foreign imports; support British farmers and put taxpayers’ money back into the local economy. The Countryside Alliance Foundation is calling on the Coalition Government to introduce a minimum British food buying standards policy for schools, similar to that initiated for the civil service earlier this year.
The full report ‘Encouraging Schools to Buy British’ – including a full breakdown of the figures by Local Education Authority and polling data – is attached to this email.
- Out of 172 Local Education Authorities (LEAs) only 60 know the country of origin of the food they are buying for pupils. This equates to just 35 per cent of schools who know the origins of the food they are serving to school children.
- On average, of the 60 LEAs that record where they source food for schools, 61 per cent was British in 2008-09. This increased to 62 per cent in 2009-10.
- From the LEAs that provided information at least £73,356,057 was spent on British food in 2008-09 and £70,449,229 was spent on British food in 2009-10.
- Polling by YouGov reveals that 61 per cent of people believe that schools should buy British meat and meat products even if it costs more.
Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of The Countryside Alliance Foundation, said:
“When times are tough, too often the public sector turns to foreign suppliers for cheap goods. But if more schools looked to local producers to fill their food needs, they would be investing in higher quality meals for pupils, which would help keep their children healthy and improve concentration, and put taxpayers’ money back into the local economy. The Countryside Alliance Foundation is urging the Government to extend their buying standards guidance to schools, to ensure parents, pupils, producers and taxpayers are getting the best possible deal from their Local Education Authority.”
The full report ‘Encouraging Schools to Buy British’ – including a full breakdown of the figures by Local Education Authority and polling data – can be found below.
New research released by The Countryside Alliance Foundation – the charitable arm of the Countryside Alliance, the voice of rural Britain – has today revealed the extent to which Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in Britain are investing in local produce, and the demand from the general public for greater public sector investment in British producers.
Strict government regulations mean that British farmers produce food to some of the highest hygiene, nutritional and welfare standards in the world. Despite the Government imposing these high standards to improve the quality of British food, The Countryside Alliance Foundation believes that there is not enough of a concerted effort to ensure a good-sized proportion of the one billion pounds of taxpayer money spent in the public sector each year goes on buying high-quality British food.
Freedom of Information requests to all LEAs in Britain have revealed that over two-thirds of schools do not track the origins of the food they are buying for their pupils. Of those that did, we were encouraged to see that 60 per cent of the produce being procured is coming from Britain, however there needs to be a concerted effort to urge schools across the country to invest – it should be remembered – taxpayers’ money back into their local producers.
At present schools are not required to prioritise the purchasing of British food for school meals. The Countryside Alliance Foundation believes that a procurement programme in schools that focuses on buying British food will place sustainable development right at the heart of food procurement; providing better quality meals for school children, thereby improving their health and things like behaviour and concentration; provide benefits to farmers and the local economy, and greater environmental sustainability. We believe that this can also all be achieved within the constraints of public sector procurement rules and tight budgets.
Notes to Editors
1. The full report ‘Encouraging Schools to Buy British’ – including a full breakdown of the figures by Local Education Authority and polling data – is attached to this email. If no report is attached, or for an addition copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
2. MethodologyA freedom of information request was sent to all LEAs in the UK. The request asked for the amount of British food procured in financial years 2008-09 and 2009-10 and the total amount of money spent on food procurement in the same financial years. 186 LEAs out of 209 provided a response to the request, which mean 89 per cent of LEAs responded.
3. YouGov pollingPolling figures are from YouGov Plc (full break-down of poll available in the report below). Total sample size was 2,799 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th-12th May 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
Encouraging schools to buy British