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02.09.05
National Praise For Hospital Food Project

A project that sources Cornwall's high quality food and drink for hospitals has been praised by a national research body.

The Cornwall NHS Food Programme, based at the Knowledge Spa, Truro, has been highlighted by an independent health think tank for its good practice. The Cornwall NHS Food programme, which has received Objective One investment, has managed to increase the amount the NHS in Cornwall spends annually on local food by 20 per cent. Forty five per cent of the annual £1.2 million budget is now spent on Cornish produce including milk, fish, ice cream, cheese, meat and vegetables as compared to 25 per cent five years ago, but this figure can be increased to 60 or 70% by 2007. This local produce is served to patients, visitors and staff in many of Cornwall's hospitals.

Recent research from the King's Fund, an independent charity working for better health in the UK, has called for greater local food sourcing by the public health sector. Karen Jochelson, public health researcher at the King's Fund explained: "If you're able to increase the amount of local food, you're also reducing the amount of traffic, because produce isn't transported so far. This in turn reduces pollution that has an impact on respiratory diseases."

The King's Fund research found that, from farm to kitchen, the average ingredients of lasagne served in hospitals travelled about 27,800km while steak and kidney pie ingredients travelled about 31,200km. However, the King's Fund report highlighted the Cornwall NHS Food Programme as one of only two examples of good practice in England. "This scheme operates within the existing NHS food procurement system, so it just goes to show that with some ingenuity, sustainability is a realistic goal," said Dr Jochelson.

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, said: "This project has so many obvious benefits and it is gratifying to hear that it is receiving national recognition. By the public sector sourcing locally year round, orders for local farmers and food producers are guaranteed as is delicious, high quality food for those in hospital. Food transport is cut drastically making our environment healthier."

The NHS Food Programme is supported by all five of Cornwall's health trusts and headed by Cornwall Partnership Trust, Cornwall's mental health and learning disability service provider. Roy Heath, the Sustainable Food Manager for the NHS in Cornwall said: "We are fortunate enough to have some of the country's best food produced locally and we want to make sure we can make the most of it, providing quality menus for our patients, while doing what we can to support the local economy. This initiative is the result of partnership working with local producers and growers to ensure we can receive the quality products they make, at a competitive price we can afford."

His colleague Nathan Harrow, NHS Food Programme spokesperson, added: "We are delighted at being recognised as an example of good practice. This is something that Cornwall's NHS Trusts have been committed to for a number of years, the benefits to the community of Cornwall through economic and environmental gains are tremendous and we can deliver these through supporting the local populace. Of course, the other benefits are that patients, visitors and staff get to enjoy the wonderful produce that Cornwall produces."

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, has also called for more local sourcing by the NHS. In his latest annual report on the state of public health, published this summer, there is a section entitled 'A Fresh Look: Realigning Food procurement in the Public Sector'. The report states that every £10 spent on locally produced food generates around £25 for the local economy. In contrast, the same amount spent in a supermarket generates only £14, as much of the food comes from overseas. "Not only should the public sector promote healthier food, it should also address sustainability in its food procurement practices," states the report. "The public sector could be more creative in drawing up specifications for contracts to supply food and catering. For example, specifications to encourage purchase of food from smaller suppliers within the UK and locally, where costs are often competitive, could include dishes or menus that use local and seasonal produce rather than a year round supply of a particular food."

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager at the Objective One Partnership on 01872 223439 or 07973 813647 or email: cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the NHS Food Programme through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

The NHS Food Programme encourages local farmers and food producers to supply Cornwall's hospitals with fresh wholesome produce, which is good for patients and staff alike and also the local economy. The post of Roy Heath, sustainable food procurement manager for the NHS Food programme, has received investment from the Organic South West Soil Association, an Objective One gateway fund. The Objective One Programme also invested in 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.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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