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LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND SUSTAINABLE FOOD PROCUREMENT: 'DO MORE, AND BE RECOGNISED TO DO MORE'

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Local authorities have been encouraged to recognise their significant role in delivering on sustainability. ...
Local authorities have been encouraged to recognise their significant role in delivering on sustainability.

At the UK's first public sector food procurement conference, organised by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) executive director Lucy de Groot emphasised that sustainable food procurement is integral to the recently announced national procurement strategy, and that sustainable food procurement is consistent with local government's core objectives.

Ms de Groot reasoned that local authorities can support their local economy by buying food locally whilst adhering to EU legislation, develop social cohesion by ensuring that all children have access to nutritious food at school, and aid the well-being of their area through promoting healthy eating. All these things are equally important to the sustainability agenda and the local government improvement agenda, she stated.

Ms de Groot also welcomed the October Haskins report, which acknowledges that local authorities play a key role in tackling rural need.

The audience was reminded of the buying power ower of local government and that the £40bn that local government spends with suppliers can, and will, have major social, environmental and economic impacts in their locality and beyond. They should use procurement to help deliver corporate objectives, including economic, social and

environmental objectives, as set out in the council's community plan.

Central government has declared that by 2004, every council should build sustainability into its procurement strategy, processes and contracts. Ms DeGroot praised some shining examples of successful sustainable food procurement initiatives launched by local government, namely the work being done by South Gloucestershire Council. But she stated that other councils needed to do more to deliver on sustainable food procurement and promote the work that they are doing within their localities.

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