Local and Sustainable; What Does that Entail for Schools?

Sep 10, 2018 editor

Following the Blue Planet 2 effect, there is an increasing demand from consumers for sustainable food which is set to stay. With that in mind we thought that it was important to look at how this continuing trend affects the world of school catering, and whether it will benefit the sector in the long run.   

According to an article in Cost Sector Catering published last year: “A contract can heavily depend on local sourcing to underline a company’s support for local produce and sustainability, particularly in the cost sectors; and especially with staples such as meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables”. 

Not only are people interested in the story of how their food got to their plate, but it would also seem that there is an increasing desire for contracting parties to have transparency from their catering companies, showing their commitment to sustainability and local produce. This challenge is another way for caterers to showcase themselves to their clients.  

The Food Life Catering Mark (FLCM) is an important symbol for caterers wishing to show they are innovative and up to date. As of April 2016 over 1.6 million Bronze, Silver or Gold Catering Mark meals were served every weekend, in education, healthcare, workplace and visitor attractions sectors across the UK according to the Soil Association.  

The FLCM comes in three stages, with Bronze entry-level being more about fresh, traceable and nutritious food than organic produce. Concern with organic produce, ethical and environmentally friendly foods can be found in the upper two awards, Silver and Gold. It is these two awards, which focuses a lot on locally sourced produce, where caterers can stand out. But companies who qualify for this award are set to gain more than just sustainability; there are economic benefits too. 

People are more likely to opt-in to use your catering option if you have an award, and the higher the metal, the more profit sales you are likely to get. Furthermore, having a FLCM is increasingly becoming a requirement for public sector work, so if you are a company wanting to gain more work within this sector, it could become a necessity.  

Another benefit, particularly for those companies working within the education sectors, is that using nutritious and local produce opens up a forum between kids students and their food. It is a great platform for them to learn more about sustainability, food and the environment, and how eating healthily can be fun and is important.  

Our catering consultants are experienced in the many challenges that a school's catering service can face, from the commercial constraints to provide a healthy and nutritionally complaint menu, to the need for high street style food concepts. 

At Red Box we provide a wide range of services for schools and academies, and as an independent company, our loyalty lies with you so we will develop the best strategy for each individual establishment on a case by case basis.

Our school and academy projects include tender management whereby we assess the merit of Contract Caterers including their approach to sustainability and added value in educational projects. From writing the invitation to tender document through to the evaluation of bids and contract award to the successful tendering organisation. 

We also have significant experience in bringing or developing the hospitality and facilities management services ‘in house’.  Here we can work with the catering manager and other service teams to develop menus, marketing strategy, service levels and procedures to support local and sustainable food use!