feasibility study into sourcing food locally
One of the Westcountry’s largest employers, the Cornwall
Healthcare Trust, is hoping to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds buying
food from Cornish producers in a bid to boost the local economy and benefit
its patients and staff.
The Trust, which has a £1.43 million annual food budget covering 26 hospitals
across the county, is carrying out a feasibility study with the help of
Objective One funding into the possibility of sourcing food locally.
If successful, the project could generate hundreds of thousands of pounds
in business for local food producers and may be used as a model for other
healthcare trusts across the UK.
To help it investigate a ‘buy local’ policy, the Trust has been awarded
£17,727 of Objective One funding with a further £8,864 from the Department
of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Once complete, the initial study is likely to be followed by a further
bid for grant funding and could result in a self-sustaining food business
using locally produced goods. The hope is to create a large network of
food producers capable of providing the CHT with the majority of its food
Mike Pearson, the CHT’s catering adviser, will lead the study. Mike is
responsible for NHS catering services across the county and is part of
a 40-strong national team - which includes TV food personality Loyd Grossman
- set up by the Government to produce a new National Health Service menu
for the UK’s hospitals.
He said: “People in Cornwall know what they like to eat and would
like to think that much of the food produced has been bought from local
suppliers so that in essence the hospitals contribute to the local economy.
“Cornwall produces food of the highest quality and it is important that
contracts are developed which ensure that we can buy locally.”
At present 90% of the food produced in Cornwall leaves the county to be
processed and packaged elsewhere. But following a change in central Government
procurement rules and NHS contracting systems, the CHT wants to see a
much larger proportion of that value added in the county, which would
mean fresher food and fewer lorry journeys.
David Rodda, senior agricultural co-ordinator for the Objective One Agricultural
Development Team, said: “Local sourcing and adding value to Cornish
farm output in Cornwall are two key planks of our strategy for agriculture
under the Objective One programme because we know the potential is enormous.
“The CHT study will hopefully prove how local sourcing can work even for
very large organisations by examining issues like quality control, volume,
cost and delivery, and we hope that other organisations will follow suit.”
Cornwall County Council last week announced that it is backing Cornish
food suppliers by awarding a major contract to supply school meals to
32 Cornish schools to four local companies. The three-year contract, worth
around £350,000 a year, is with:
Scorse Foods Ltd
of Helston for fresh meat
Chaffins Food Service
of Redruth for groceries and provisions
Doble Quality Foods
of St Agnes for frozen foods
RT Julian & Son of Newquay for fresh fruit and vegetables
Local sourcing is seen as a major benefit to the local economy and rural
economy in particular. In July, Prince Charles launched his Rural Action
campaign to help stop the economic decline in the countryside in the aftermath
of the foot and mouth crisis, and urged businesses and public sector organisations
to support rural communities by buying their food locally.
At the launch of Rural Action on July 24 the Prince told his audience: “Local sourcing is something which every person in this room could do
something about right now, whether you are a major retailer, a hotel chain
or a one-man enterprise. Buy your food locally for your stores, for your
restaurant, or for your canteen. The difference that such a change in
your company policy could have on your local rural community would be
significant and lasting.”
A recent study from the New Economics Foundation, funded by the Countryside
Agency, found that money spent on locally-produced food generated almost
twice as much income for the local economy as the same amount spent in
a typical supermarket.
The survey found that every £10 spent with a local food initiative is
worth £25 for the local area, compared with just £14 when the same amount
is spent in a supermarket.
The same amount is worth more with local schemes as it stays in the vicinity
where its value increases as it is reinvested many times over, the survey
Healthcare Trust has produced its own press release, available
through Communications Manager Sue Gayton on 01726 291075.
For details of Cornwall County Council’s school meals local sourcing
initiative, contact Mark Nicholson on 01872 274098.
For details of the New Economics Foundation survey, which was
based on a Cornish food box scheme and first published on August
7, contact Caroline Hill on 020 7089 2858, email firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit the website at www.neweconomics.org.
To read Prince Charles’ full speech from the launch of Rural Action
on July 24 visit www.bitc.org.uk/home.html.
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD