Local Food Economy

Helping your employees make more sustainable food choices

By Steve Ashworth

Steve Ashworth

Chartered accountant and Bristol food-lover Steve Ashworth describes some of the steps that his business, PKF Francis Clark, has taken to make the food in his workplace more sustainable. From supply chains to snacks to food waste.

We want affordable, sustainable, healthy and responsibly sourced food. But as soon as you put all of these together everyday life can become more difficult. The challenges are even greater when this extends to the workplace.

Your employees choose what to eat and where to eat it! But do they have that choice at work? As individuals they are asking for more choice in the workplace, but as their employer are you listening? As an employer are you thinking about the same issues and questioning how you buy food, where you buy it and what happens to the waste? If so, have you worked out how to make these changes?

The six Going for Gold action areas for organisations will help improve the daily choices of your employees and provide a healthier and more environmentally conscious food offering as part of daily working life. Introducing affordable, healthy food, made in a way that’s fair for the producers and doesn’t harm the environment can be a positive and empowering transformation in any organisation. It can help to make the work environment a more enjoyable and healthy place to work.

Buying local and better can be a part of the changes you introduce. This could be by re-engaging with your suppliers and considering where the food is coming from, how it is packaged and how far it has travelled. Think about people, places and planet; communicate what you are doing and make simple changes that have the widest impact and those that are good for the business.

Look to make a positive impact and help your employees think about their food choices and the impact this is having on them and their well-being as well as the environment. As a starting point, together with your employees, I hope you can be inspired by some of the changes that we have made as a business:

  • Consider your suppliers. Are you buying from local and sustainable businesses, whether that is your daily milk delivery or the working lunches you buy in? The UK must shorten and reduce the complexity of food supply chains if it hopes to ensure future food security, and you can assist with this by thinking about where the food is coming from.
  • Put inedible food in a food waste bin, along with a bin for plastics and paper.  Then, speak with an organisation like Geneco to collect your food waste. We partnered with others in our building to make this more cost-effective.
  • Look at your caterers. We now have a monthly breakfast with our staff. We buy in the food from a local café who have great food ethics. Not only are we thinking about the food, but it gives the staff time to sit down together over breakfast and chat.
  • Provide fruit and other healthy snacks. We now have a regular fruit delivery each week and encourage staff to take home any surplus, so as not to waste it.  Maybe someone could take it home and cook with it.
© Photo by City to Sea

There’s so much your business can do to make eating better a part of life in the workplace; your employees can support and encourage you and their peers to make these positive changes. Finally, if you run a food business you can commit to the Going for Gold Catering and Procurement Pledge as a framework for taking action.

Steve Ashworth is Director at PKF Francis Clark Chartered Accountants. Steve is a keen home cook and won the South West ‘home cook’ Chef of the Year in 2013. He is also a judge for various South West and national food producer and restaurant awards.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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