Soil Association launches action plan for better hospital grub

The Soil Association has launched a package of support for hospitals to improve the food experience for patients, staff, visitors and the wider community.

The Food for Life Hospital Leaders Circle brings patients and hospital staff together to transform their food and use good food to support rehabilitation and improve health and well-being.

The Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark scheme promises “fresh food you can trust” and it is boosting the British farming industry, with more than £40m spent on British ingredients each year.

See also: Truss unveils four-point plan for farming

Through the Hospital Leaders Circle, hospitals are supported to make food a board-level priority, projects delivering cooking and growing skills can be brought in for the benefit of patients, staff and the wider community.

The project supports hospitals to meet key new policy requirements like the development of a food and drink strategy and meet objectives in the NHS Five Year Forward View surrounding food.

“Good food is a central part of supporting health and our pilot projects showed that when good food is made available, people will choose it.”
Dr Susannah McWilliam, Soil Association

“Good food is a central part of supporting health and our pilot projects showed that when good food is made available, people will choose it,” said Dr Susannah McWilliam, from the Soil Association.

“Hospitals serve 300m meals to patients each year, spending £500m on food annually.

“With diet-related ill-health costing the NHS £5.8bn and the cost to the wider economy expected to rise to £50bn a year by 2050, hospitals urgently need to tackle both malnutrition in patients and the promotion of healthy food to staff and visitors.”

In 2013, a Farmers Weekly campaign – Get Better, Get British – called for more UK food in our hospitals.

It won support from celebrity chefs, MPs from all the main political parties, local food campaigners and healthcare experts. 

Figures show the growing demand for healthier, sustainable food in the UK food sector.

In 2014, the wholesale value of Red Tractor meat sold into Catering Mark supply chains was more than £23m.

The Soil Association’s 2014 Organic Market Report also showed that sales of organic through food service increased by 10% in 2013. 

Collectively, Catering Mark holders annually spend more than £7m on organic ingredients, nearly £4m on free range and Freedom Food-certified meat and more than £1.2m on products certified with the Linking Environment and Food (LEAF) marque.

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