Sustainable Fayre is a Kindling project exploring opportunities to increase 'low-carbon' food in Manchester via school meals, complimenting the city's Climate Change Action Plan, Manchester; A Certain Future.
In March 2010 Kindling secured Carbon Innovation Funding to look at the viability and possible methods for supplying fairly-priced local and organic produce to Manchester’s public sector. The initial project consisted of two elements: a pilot seasonal soup project in Brookburn Primary school in partnership with local authority caterers Manchester Fayre and funded by Food Futures, and a piece of research resulting in a report entitled 'Sustainable Fayre'.
The Sustainable Fayre report explores ways Manchester Fayre could purchase local organic (hence sustainable) food, offering economic, social and environmental benefits to the region. The study looked at inspiring examples across the UK and in Europe and the solutions that they have found to commonly cited obstacles to sourcing sustainable food. It investigates the feasibility of supplying significant quantities of sustainable food to Manchester Fayre and the wider public sector with the aims of:
- Reducing the CO2 emissions of our city’s food.
- Nurturing behavioural change in favour of low-carbon food choices.
- Offering a replicable and financially sustainable solution.
- Identifying solutions which offer greater economic security for both farmers and Manchester Fayre.
The report can be downloaded below and we have had requests from a number of local and central government bodies for a copy, so we hope our finds will not only influence Manchester City Council, but also other public sector bodies across the UK.
The pilot project put a low carbon soup on the menu five times a day throughout the year. To ensure that the soup is as low in carbon as possible - as well as nutritious and tastey:
- the soups are made with top quality fresh seasonal veg (all meat free and mainly dairy free too - also making them inclusive to most dietary needs)
- all ingredients are organic; the veg is sourced from farms as close as possible to the school (where possible within 30 miles)
- the dry ingredients (pulses, pasta and dry herbs) come from within Europe and are transported overland (not air freighted).
The soup recipes were developed in partnership with Manchester Fayre nutritionists and the school chef, with taster sessions and feedback from the children before the menu was set. The pilot has gone really well, with soup uptake doubling in term two and practically no waste from left overs. A number of lessons have been learnt that we will use and share with others through a report that will be produced after an evaluation carried out by Kindling, Brookburns head chef, Manchester Fayre and Manchester Veg People/Dig Food (the growers and distributors of the veg).
Excitingly, as we have been writing this summary, funds have been secured for two of the priority recommendations of the report: a full carbon audit of Manchester Fayre's food purchases, and the development of a seasonal menu that is low carbon, fair, high animal welfare, value for money and crucially child friendly. This work will be a partnership with Kindling, Climate Friendly Foods, Manchester Fayre and Food Futures - a crucial partnership to create this all singing all dancing menu as we will have the expertise and experience of those who can calculate the carbon, evaluate the nutritional value, calculate the costs, think about other sustainability impacts and benefits, and importantly know what pupils like and don't like! (and, hopefully, be able to implement this carbon saving menu across Manchester Fayre primary schools in 2012!).