7. Sustainable Food

According to Sustain UK, The food we consume is responsible for 20%- 30% of emissions globally. Meanwhile, the food system is destroying the environment upon which future food production depends, while failing to deliver nutritious affordable food for all.

People & Planet believes universities have a responsibility to address the sustainability and carbon intensity of their food supply chains, whether it is provided internally or through contractors. Universities are also key to shaping behaviour change in the choices we make regarding our attitude to food; the sector could become an example of best practice within the UK.

 

Sustainable Food Policy

1. Does the university have a publicly-available sustainable food policy (or a Sustainable Procurement Policy which integrates sustainability criteria for food) that is reported on annually at a senior level of the university?

Score 15%

Clarifications

  • People & Planet will find the policy on the university website

  • Policy states explicitly that it covers all food outlets and food served by the university (it may exclude vending machines, and students’ union food, for which university does not have responsibility).

  • If the university has outsourced its catering, policies provided by contract caterers reflecting their principles are not acceptable here. The policy must be authored by the university itself and reflect the university’s aims, objectives and principles with regards to healthy, sustainable food.

Contracts

2. Does the university’s sustainable food policy cover tender specifications with external partners?

Score 20%

Clarifications

  • This question pertains to food procured through individual suppliers, consortia and other catering purchasing organisations, and to the catering contracts and sub-contracts held, tendered and re-tendered by universities where catering services might be outsourced, i.e. halls of residence catering provisions or staff and student dining provisions.

  • Specifications must conform to those outlined within the university sustainable food policy or standards set by external bodies, namely the Soil Association or Sustainable Restaurant Association.

  • People & Planet will look for information in a sustainable food policy, procurement policy or similar.

Sustainable Food Framework

3. Has the university implemented a comprehensive framework for continual improvement in sustainable food and catering that is regularly audited and verified by an external organisation ?

Score - max 50%

One of the most common ways to measure commitment to sustainable catering in the public sector is through the achievement of an externally assessed sustainable food award, such as the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here award, or the Food Made Good Membership by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Clarifications

  • People & Planet will look for evidence on the university website demonstrating progress towards Food for Life Served Here or Sustainable Restaurant Association membership.
  • A University might have a number of catering outlets that are accredited to different levels of the catering award.

  • Scores will depend on the level of award held and number of outlets on campus holding an award, according to the table below.

 

Food For Life Served Here by the Soil Association

Food Made Good by the Sustainable Restaurant Association

Partial coverage*

Bronze

10%

1 Star

10%

Silver

15%

2 Star

15%

Gold

20%

3 Star

20%

Majority coverage**

Bronze

30%

1 Star

30%

Silver

40%

2 Star

40%

Gold

50%

3 Star

50%

*at least one outlet on campus complies with an external framework.

**More than half of outlets comply with an external framework.

  • The following would be classed as outlets: halls of residence (this counts as one outlet if they’re managed the same and use the same menus, or counted independently if they are managed separately), canteens, cafes/coffee shops, hospitality menus, anywhere that food is served.
  • 50% here represents full marks for the external framework question, which is 50% of the whole sustainable food section.
  • Where universities have several outlets with different ratings or awards, a median will need to be awarded. i.e the accredited outlets will be put in ascending order and the middle outlet will be taken as representative of the institution.
  • Halls of residence are considered university food outlets.
  • Accreditations achieved in the last 24 months will be accepted in 2021.

People & Planet will calculate scores based on the information found on the university website. Scores will be verified by the Soil Association and Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Community Food

4. Does the university provide space and / or other support for student / staff-led sustainable food projects.

Score 15%

People & Planet will look for an outline, news item or case study of the project on the university website. The project should be ongoing and any news updated within the last 24 months.

Clarifications

All of these activities will score full points:

  • Provision of food growing space either on or off the university campus (this might include partnership with a community garden/ rental of an allotment allocation / provision of growing space wholly owned by the university).

  • Roof gardens, allotments, campus orchards, green walls, container gardening, window boxes and raised beds are acceptable if the student and staff community have access to leading or co-managing the project.

  • If the students’ union has provided the space for food growing, it is expected that the university provides donation-in-kind that will support the project, i.e. equipment / funds/ communications support.

  • Student society/club/group or trades union led projects are expected to be supported by the university in the ways outlined above.

  • Space and support for student/staff run sustainable food distribution projects such as veg-box scheme or food co-ops is acceptable

  • Medicinal plants and or herb gardens are included.