The University of Edinburgh Business School in association with Connect Local held a highly successful public procurement summit entitled “Making School Food Better”.

The event, attended by 42 delegates, formed part of a wider 5year EU funded research project entitled “Strength2Food”. Delegates from across the UK, Serbia, Croatia, Greece and Italy joined the event which will inform this wider research into the environmental, economic, social and nutritional outcomes of school meals provision.

Professor Mary Brennan and Dr Angela Tregear led the event with support from Douglas Watson, George Noble and Allison Watson from SAOS through the Connect Local Project.

Delegates in the morning heard from a range of eminent speakers representing key stakeholders in the school meals supply chain across the UK. The programme was highly participatory and encouraged well informed debate on the realities of the barriers and opportunities from the perspective of both procurement and producer.

Mary Brennan said, “We were delighted to welcome delegates with a broad range of experience and interest in public procurement and specifically those working with schools to make school food better. We had some very insightful contributions to the overall discussion and the various elements of our research. Our next step over the forthcoming months will be to analyse this information which will form an important part of the outputs of the research”.

The afternoon breakout sessions allowed delegates time to work together to discuss the practical realities of the challenges around the school food system and to look at possible solutions. They identified many important and common issues and a discussion on some very interesting solutions from across Europe which will inform the research project.

George Noble said, “Connect Local was very pleased to have partnered with The University of Edinburgh in this summit. We are currently working to finalise our Regional Suppliers Development Programme which will be rolled out across Scotland over the next 2 years. This event was informative in shaping how our programme will progress with respect to public procurement”.