Sustainable food initiatives aimed at tackling food waste and climate change are sweeping through Europe and the UK, and the latest example comes in the form of a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK and global catering and facilities firm Sodexo.
The two groups have launched a new range of sustainable meals with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of food production and improving public health. The meals align with the LiveWell principles and objectives set out in Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow Plan to ensure they are nutritious, lower carbon and that the ingredients are responsibly sourced.
Intensive food production is a major driver of habitat destruction and climate change, and now accounts for up a third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Through the Green & Lean meals initiative — which is set to launch across more than 40 independent schools in England in January 2017 — WWF UK and Sodexo hope to combat this issue.
WWF’s food sustainability advisor, Nick Hughes, said: “The way we currently produce and consume food is negatively impacting our own health and the health of the planet. If we’re to achieve a future where people and nature thrive together, we need to reconsider the types of food we eat in the UK and where and how our food is produced.”
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In the Green & Lean meals, plant-based goods account for at least two-thirds of the volume of each meal, refined grains are replaced with whole grains; meat and fish have to have relevant certification such as MSC or RSPCA Assured; and fruits and vegetables are sourced according to season.
“At Sodexo, we serve around one million meals every day in schools, hospitals, workplaces, sports stadia, army barracks and prisons. In short, we reach consumers in every walk of life. For this reason, we have an important role to play in both helping promote healthy lifestyles and in doing so in a way which is sustainable,” said Sodexo UK and Ireland’s corporate responsibility manager, Edwina Hughes.
“Green & Lean is an exciting development for us. We’re finding that consumers are more and more interested in the provenance of their food and want to make ethical, sustainable and healthy choices, but of course these options still need to be tasty and appealing.”
The roll-out follows a successful pilot in eight schools in November 2015 in which almost 20,000 meals, containing more than a ton of extra vegetables, were served to students.
Green & Lean meals is just one of the recent efforts Sodexo has been making to reduce its impact. Partnering with the International Food Waste Coalition last month, the company launched a European-wide program to optimize meal production in school cafeterias, educate students and promote value chain collaboration among food service companies.
The results from the SKOOL pilot phase — which was deployed across six schools in France, Italy and the UK from January to July 2016 — reported an average of 12 percent food waste reduction, corresponding to 2.5 tons of food waste avoided.
Sodexo strategy chief Damien Verdier said: “The SKOOL program will provide significant benefits to our network of schools and suppliers. Not only does food waste prevention lead to increased savings and new business innovation, it fosters employee motivation and teamwork around a positive project.”
“Integrating the new program into our schools offering will help Sodexo and our clients more accurately track food waste and implement effective measures to tackle the issue every interaction across the food chain.”