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27.07.04
Cornwall NHS Food Programme and local producers brought together with one objective

The provision of high quality food is essential to the well being of hospital patients and soon all patients in Cornwall will be able to benefit from local and organic food. With investment from Objective One and others, the healthcare community in Cornwall has developed a programme to benefit patients, sustain the local economy and reduce the harmful impact on the environment caused by delivery lorries from out of the county.

A sustainable development manager post has been funded by the Soil Association to be based at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. Roy Heath, who previously worked in a similar role at the Eden project, has been employed to make links with local farmers and food companies in order to get fresh, unprocessed food into Cornish hospitals and other healthcare outlets and to ensure that the supply chain for food is sustainable.

There are five healthcare trusts in Cornwall covering 23 hospitals.

The Healthcare community in Cornwall spends approximately £1.2 million annually on food products and if most of this money can remain and circulate within Cornwall through locally sourced produce it will have a significant impact on the local economy. An estimated 11,700 kg of bacon, 13,300kg of diced pork, 19,000 cauliflowers, 10,900 beef pasties and 17,000kg of cheddar cheese is used each year. Currently, some of this is sourced locally, but around 60 per cent comes from suppliers outside Cornwall.

The use of local produce will also have a positive impact on the environment as the distance the food has to travel is dramatically reduced. Jonathon Porritt, Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, the government's independent adviser said of the Cornish health community's project: "This work is highly commendable. It is exactly what is needed to support the local economies, reduce pollution and emissions from long distance transport, cut down on agrichemicals and help support healthier diets. The health care community in Cornwall is also looking towards using more seasonal produce and adapting menus to suit local produce where available."

Traci Lewis from Organic South West office said: "A number of organic farmers are interested in being involved in this exciting new project. We hope that this initiative will provide long-term contracts for organic farmers in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and help the development of organic food and farming in Cornwall."

Over the past year many small food producers and manufacturers have received Objective One investment to enable them to improve quality standards, expand their premises and production levels and in turn take on large orders such as the NHS. Objective One Partnership Director, Carleen Kelemen said: "Objective One investment has allowed small businesses to improve standards and increase production. Now this supply chain is being consolidated for large contractors and in turn is strengthening the dairy, meat, fishing and arable farming communities in Cornwall. Nearly £14,000,000 of Objective One investment has been implemented to create a sustainable future for Cornish food producers and now with the NHS turning to local food, we are really seeing a positive comeback.

One supplier to the NHS is family-run ice cream company Callestick Farm. Angela Parker at Callestick said: "Developing the ice-cream business has been a difficult venture but Objective One has definitely been a catalyst for its recent success. The local NHS has helped support the industry a great deal and is giving small producers the chance to extend and expand."

The NHS project board is also looking ahead to a possible future apprenticeship scheme linked with local colleges to develop a skills base within the catering industry.

Project Manager Nathan Harrow has stated that the Healthcare community currently uses local suppliers for meat, fruit and vegetables and many dry and frozen products and is keen to hear from other local food producers in Cornwall who would be interested in providing for the NHS. If you would like further information about the programme or would like to be a supplier, please contact Roy Heath on (01872) 253721 or email roy.heath@cornwall.nhs.uk

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Editor's notes:

The Cornish health community is committed to environmental sustainability and the principles of local procurement and inward investment.

The Objective One Programme funded a nine-month feasibility study to investigate and identify improved ways in which the Cornwall healthcare community can develop food processing and meal production that will benefit patients, staff and visitors at hospitals throughout Cornwall.

The proposal received national recognition as the first to embrace sustainability. Support has been received from South West Rural Development Agency, Department for Food, Farming and Rural Affairs, Government Office for the South West, strategic health authority, NHS Estates, NHS Purchasing, Department of Health, Sustain and the Prime Minister's office.

The Government's Sustainable Food initiative was launched by DEFRA minister Lord Whitty at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in August 2003.

The next phase will be to build the food production unit on a site in Camborne.

Funding has been received from:

NHS - £130,000
Organic South West Soil Association (for the first year and hoping to extend by another year) - £50,000
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - £50,000
European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund and Objective One - £175,000

Organic South West is part funded by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund and Defra under the Objective One Programme and is managed as a regional office of the Soil Association.

For further Information:

Traci Lewis
Organic South West Soil Association
01579 371147

Nathan Harrow
Project Manager
01872 252895

Roy Heath
Sustainable Development Manager
01872 253721

Mike Pearson
Acting Head of Hotel Services and Project Director
01872 252767

Rachael Clayton
Objective One Partnership
01579 370091

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Sue Wolstenholme
Objective One Communications
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01579 370991

lmroberts@cornwall.gov.uk

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