Labour MP Joan Walley Stoke on Trent North) tabled a Private Members Bill Public Bodies (Sustainable Food) setting nutritional, environmental and ethical standards for the £2 billion of public sector food purchased by the government each year.

It narrowly failed to receive its Second Reading last Friday because there were not enough MPs in Parliament to prevent it being ‘talked out’ by Conservative MPs. Read more on the website of Sustain.

One of Joan Walley’s campaigning venues was Staffordshire University’s Stoke campus where a number of speakers – including the University’s head of catering – spoke of the benefits to be gained from serving fresh, sustainable and locally sourced food.

“Food served within public institutions is often bad for our health, damaging to the environment, and unethically sourced,” said Joan. “This Bill seeks to change this, bringing in legal nutritional, environmental and ethical standards which the public sector would have to meet. These standards would affect hospitals, schools, the armed forces, care homes and all other public institutions.

In a Farmers Guardian comment, Fair Deal Food adviser, farmer Tom Rigby, quoted the Food Programme’s words on Nottingham City Hospital where replacing South American meat with UK produce “has proved cost neutral yet now £55 from every £100 spent goes back into the local economy, it used to be about £5”.

The programme concluded that “if we take the long term view and do what is right for the planet, for health, for the local economy, for farmers and for fair trade we will have a food policy fit for the nation”.