We are the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development. Through advocacy, advice and
appraisal, we help put sustainable development at the heart of Government policy


Kings Fund conference

14 May 2002


The National Health Service should do more to promote health through the food it
buys, the Sustainable Development Commission will urge at tomorrow's King's Fund
Conference, 'Claiming the health dividend: unlocking the benefits of NHS spending'.

The NHS provides more than 300 million meals a year at a cost of £500 million. The
NHS food shopping list includes:
- 108 million pints of milk (62 million litres)
- 29.8 million pounds of potatoes (13.5 million kg)
- 2.5 million pounds of butter (1.1 million kg)
- 12.3 million loaves of bread
- 1.3 million chicken legs.

A sustainable food purchasing policy that limits environmental damage, reduces
unnecessary transport of food and helps support deprived areas by creating jobs in
food production could have a real impact on health and quality of life in the UK.

Jonathon Porritt, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, said: 'The
NHS's contribution to the UK's quality of life does not stop at treating sick people. It
has a major proactive role to play in preventing people getting sick in the first place,
by buying and providing food in a more sustainable way. More sustainable food
procurement would create local jobs in food production, thus reducing poverty and
ill health in the community. And as the country's major employer, better meals for
low paid staff would also help reduce the NHS's sick bill.'

The Sustainable Development Commission's recommendations in this area include:

- Encouraging sourcing of food from the UK by specifying different, seasonal
items, rather than the same items all year round (which can only be grown

- Working proactively with small, local suppliers to make sure they have the
knowledge and contacts to bid for food supply contracts

- Developing a Government policy framework aimed at limiting unnecessary and
high carbon-emitting transport of food.

Notes to editors:

This report will be launched at the King's Fund Conference 'Claiming the health
dividend: unlocking the benefits of NHS spending' on 15th May.

The report will be available on 15 May at http://www.sd-commission.org.uk

Approximately 45% of NHS employees have a basic salary of less than £15,000.

The Sustainable Development Commission is the Government's independent advisor
on sustainable development, reporting to the Prime Minister and the devolved
administration leaders. The Commission's objectives include advocating a
compelling vision of a sustainable economy and society and reviewing how far
sustainable development is being achieved in the UK across all sectors.

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