Anglesey council told to source from local farmers more

Farmers had raised concerns about the council's procurement policies for school meals in October 2021
Farmers had raised concerns about the council's procurement policies for school meals in October 2021

Welsh farmers have stressed the importance of sourcing local food in a meeting with Anglesey County Council following concerns over procurement policies for school meals.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) met with the council this week to discuss how the county can better serve schoolchildren’s nutritional needs, whilst honouring its pledge to buying local.

The union had raised concerns about the procurement policies for school meals with the council in October last year, following their agreement with catering supplier Chartwells to supply school meals.

The FUW said it was 'encouraging' that Chartwells had committed to source 30% of the total produce locally and from within a 60-mile radius.

Speaking after the meeting, FUW Anglesey county executive officer, Alaw Jones said: "Our farmers produce outstanding food here on Anglesey and across Wales.

"Our food is produced to world leading animal health and welfare standards, is sustainably produced and with the environment in mind. Our children deserve to benefit from that.”

Union officials further raised concerns about how the Welsh government’s commitment to provide free school meals from 2023 onwards would influence the ability for local authorities to source produce.

It said it would now be monitoring how Anglesey County Council would be incorporating future policies to provide free school meals.

Ms Jones added: "As always, we are keen to continue working with Chartwells and Anglesey County Council and hope that they put their money where their mouth is.

"Both the council and Chartwells have also committed to reaching net zero by 2030, and the best way for them to achieve that is by sourcing their produce from Anglesey and keeping the food miles down."

The union further questioned how Chartwells would ensure that market influences such as input costs would not affect their ability to maintain the commitment to source local produce.

FUW senior policy and communications officer, Gareth Parry said this came in light of ever increasing food production costs in Wales and across the globe.

"We stressed that their procurement policy to source directly from producers to help mitigate the impacts of market influences must be enforced.”