407 million Food for Life meals in 2020/21 support drive for healthier, sustainable menus


Food for Life, the UK’s biggest public sector healthy and sustainable food scheme, has delivered over 2.6 billion meals in the last ten years in schools, hospitals and public sector settings, proving that climate, nature and healthy friendly food doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Led by the Soil Association, Food for Life Served Here (FFLSH) standards every day deliver two million fresh meals prioritising local sourcing, British, animal welfare and nature-friendly organic produce while contributing to net zero targets. 

In its first 'Food for Life Served Here Impact Report', published this month, the Soil Association has revealed the huge impacts of the scheme across the UK. The report highlights that 407 million meals were served in 2020-21 representing a £52 million pound investment in UK farming and local economies.

Soil Association Chief Executive Helen Browning says: “We have known for a long time the benefits of good food for our most vulnerable, our children and our planet. This Impact Report illustrates that the Food for Life Scheme has the potential to support all schools, hospitals and businesses to provide tasty, healthy and nutritious food whilst also protecting our planet.”

The Soil Association believes the Government should take the opportunity, post COP26, to commit to improving the food served in hospitals and schools, which will require three actions:

• Government Buying Standards for food and catering to be made more robust and nature-friendly

• Introduce a new ‘Food Bill’ to ensure these standards are mandated across the public sector

• Mechanisms must be introduced to ensure that all caterers are compliant.

The public sector is a colossal buyer of food, serving 1.9 billion meals a year - over 5% of the total UK food service turnover, at a cost of £2.4bn. This money can be better-spent, in ways which promote human and planetary health. The Soil Association points out that just 42% of patients rate the hospital food as either satisfactory, poor or very poor. Furthermore, one third of the cash hospitals spend on food goes on items that are thrown away uneaten.

The positive ripples the Food for Life Served Here scheme creates echo further than the hospital ward, staff canteen or school dinner hall, and also support thriving local economies. Research has shown that every £1 invested in Food for Life brings a social return on investment of £4.41.

The FFLSH Impact Report is supported by software applications provider, Civica, Luella Porter, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of ESG at Civica says: “The Food for Life Served Here Award, driven by innovative digital technologies, will play a crucial role in ensuring that nutritious, allergen aware and sustainable meals become the norm rather than the exception in schools, hospitals and other public bodies across the country.”


Download a full copy of the report here: Evaluation reports - Food for Life

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