British schools urged to buy British food

15 November 2011

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15 November 2011 | Adam Leach

The Countryside Alliance Foundation is calling on the government to implement buying standards that prompt schools to buy British food.

The call was made after the foundation discovered, through a Freedom of Information Act request, that just 60 of 172 Local Education Authorities (LEAs) know the country of origin for the food they purchase. Of those who do track it, an average of 61 per cent of the food they buy is British.

Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance Foundation, said: “When times are tough, too often the public sector turns to foreign suppliers for cheap goods. But if more schools looked to local producers to fill their food needs, they would...put taxpayers’ money back into the local economy.

“We’re urging the government to extend their buying standards guidance to schools to ensure parents, pupils, producers and taxpayers are getting the most value from their Local Education Authority.”

In May, a poll carried out by YouGov for the Countryside Alliance of more than 2,799 British adults found 61 per cent believed schools should be made to buy British food, even if it increases costs.

Of the LEAs that track the buying of British food, there was a wide variety in the proportions purchased. The data showed that, for example, 21 per cent of the food bought by Surrey LEA was British compared with 93 per cent in Cumbria. Between 2008 and 2010 the proportion of British food bought by the Gloucestershire LEA rose from 60 to 85 per cent.

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