Jamie Oliver on government food procurement

7 September 2009
In this weekend's papers the UK's favourite crusading cook Jamie Oliver made an unknowing nod to procurement. Commenting in the Observer Magazine's quickfire interview, the Essex born chef said: "Tony Blair invested some money in school dinners (referring to his high profile 2006 campaign to get children eating healthier meals). But you would have got better value for money if I'd spent it myself.” Oliver did not elaborate, nor did he need too. It's a simple criticism of the way the government, or more specifically schools, manage the public purse. Given his status, it also underlines some of the problems with government food procurement. A number of these issues are discussed in our 27 August issue - a debate that was sparked, in part, after a damaging email was published relating to school meal purchasing. The message, from a senior buyer at NHS Supply Chain, suggested the Department of Health's £48 million scheme to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among school pupils will not include sustainability criteria or support local farmers. The email’s disregard for sustainability was fuelled by a desire to get costs down. It may have been an exercise in securing a low price, but it certainly does not represent what Oliver (a well known champion of British food) would call “value for money”.
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