Last week the Soil Association announced that one million meals are now being served every work day in schools, universities, nurseries, workplaces, hospitals, care homes and restaurants to its Food for Life Catering Mark standards.
Catering Mark meals are now served in nearly 30 workplaces, 25% schools in England, 20% universities, over 300 nurseries and more than 100 care home and hospital settings. Leading institutions with the award include the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Education, the National Assembly of Wales, the Greater London Authority, the National Trust, the RSPB and the Scottish Government.
Commenting on the landmark achievement, Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said: “This is a clear indication of just how far we have come in the last few years in terms of improving food eaten outside of the home. These numbers are continuing to grow rapidly as Government, public bodies and businesses recognise the value of an independent endorsement which guarantees high standards. This is for a clear way for businesses to demonstrate that they support UK farmers and food producers, and healthier, higher welfare, environmentally sustainable systems.”
Jamie Oliver said: “Reaching one million daily Catering Mark meals is a hugely positive sign … Massive credit to all the caterers and suppliers who are already working hard every day to serve up great quality, delicious, nutritious food. Whether it’s in a hospital, school, factory canteen or office café, here’s to the next million meals!”
The Soil Association says that the Food for Life Catering Mark is transforming catering from a cost-driven industry to one motivated by quality, healthy and traceable local sourcing. It adds that this is boosting the British farming industry, with over £40 million being spent on British ingredients each year.
The minimum level for the scheme is Bronze which requires 75% of meals to be freshly prepared, meat must come from farms which satisfy UK welfare standards and all eggs are from cage-free hens. No endangered fish can be served, and food is free from undesirable additives or trans fats. There are additional requirements for the Silver and Gold awards which includes using organic, free range, fairly traded and locally produced ingredients.