Food for Life- Impact Report

Jan 12, 2022 editor

Soil Association Food for Life launches the first ever Food For Life Served Here (FFLSH) Impact Report, revealing the huge impact the independent award scheme has across the UK and showing the Government needs to get serious about buying standards in the sector. The education settings, care homes, hospitals, businesses and leisure attractions who are certified can evidence that the food they serve is audited and are serving fresh, local and honest food with the majority being cooked from scratch.

The Food for Life Served Here Award is an independent endorsement, backed by annual inspections, for food providers who are taking steps to improve the food they serve, source environmentally sustainable and ethical food, make healthy eating easy, and champion local food producers.

In the 14 years since FFLSH has been available, a staggering 2.6 billion meals have been served all meeting set standards on animal welfare, sourcing and traceability. The report illustrates that 407 million meals were served in 2020-21 supporting British farmers and suppliers with £51.9 million pounds being invested in UK farming and local economies.

Unfortunately, much of the food served in our schools and hospitals is unhealthy, unsustainable, and unappealing. Just 39% of primary school children who have to pay for school meals choose to eat them. In hospitals, 42% of patients rate the food as either satisfactory, poor or very poor. Over a third of the money hospitals spend on food goes on items that are thrown away uneaten. It could be so different. The public sector is a colossal buyer of food, serving 1.9 billion meals a year – over 5% of the total UK food service turnover, at a cost of £2.4bn.

How can Public Sector catering clean up its act? This will require three things:

  1. Government Buying Standards for food and catering must be updated, making them more robust and nature-friendly
  2. Legislation must be introduced, a new ‘Food Bill’, to ensure these standards are mandated across the public sector
  3. Mechanisms must be introduced to ensure that all caterers are compliant

This was called for within the recent National Food Strategy, authored by Henry Dimblebly.

The strategy highlighted that there is currently no government monitoring of compliance. The Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here scheme provides the only verification that schools and hospitals are meeting mandatory nutrition standards, and are making efforts to serve British, sustainable and higher welfare ingredients.

Research has shown that every £1 invested in Food for Life brings a social return on investment of £4.41. The FFLSH standards ensure over two million meals a day are prioritising local sourcing, UK produce, animal welfare and nature-friendly organic produce while contributing to us achieving net zero by 2050. Read the report in full here:

fflsh-impact-report-2021.pdf (