The Fairtrade Foundation welcomes the inclusion of sustainability criteria in the new School Food Standards unveiled by Education Secretary Michael Gove earlier this week. The accompanying guidance to the new set of standards provides information for school cooks and caterers on how to procure and use Fairtrade products for school menus.
The new regulations are primarily aimed at enforcing stricter measures to improve the nutrition and health benefits of the food that children will consume in schools, but the Fairtrade Foundation believes it is encouraging that the approach acknowledges the wider issues surrounding food consumption.
The preamble makes reference to fresh, local and sustainable food and the guidance to these standards, although not compulsory, includes Fairtrade with a direct reference to the National Fairtrade Purchasing Guide which lists wholesale and catering suppliers.
"There's a huge range of Fairtrade products that schools can introduce and I'm delighted that the new Standards encourage schools to do just that. Schools can look at ways to use their purchasing powers to ask suppliers and caterers to introduce more sustainable ingredients", says Kate Jones, Education Campaigns Manager for the Fairtrade Foundation. "By doing this, the new Standards provide a crucial space for young people to take a lead on school food and develop critical thinking skills, as they reflect on the ethics of food and food choice, and discuss the stories behind their food."
Among the Fairtrade foods that are available and suitable for school meals are Fairtrade pasta, rice, beans, couscous, and quinoa and Fairtrade fruits like bananas and pineapples. As for the food stuffs which are more monitored, there is a wide range of Fairtrade juice, biscuits and cakes as well as Fairtrade chocolate for when it is allowed as a special treat at school parties, fêtes, cultural and religious celebrations and for cookery lessons.
There are now nearly 1,350 Fairtrade Schools in the UK, and that number continues to grow thanks to the support of dedicated teachers and students across the UK. The Fairtrade Schools Award is a campaign that gives primary and secondary school students the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of global issues and the solution that Fairtrade is for so many farmers and workers in developing countries.
"Fairtrade schools and the many hundreds working towards Fairtrade status will be cheering the fact that ‘sustainability’ has been recognised in the new measures," Kate concludes.
Notes to Editors
The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.3 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.
Over 4,500 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cloth toys, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.
Awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2013, at a level of 77%.
Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2013 reached £1.78 billion, a 14% increase on sales of £1.53 billion in 2012.