Freeman Hospital Case Study

Freeman Catering is an in-house catering service covering the Freeman Hospital and Regent Point in Newcastle. Improving the sustainability has been a long running project at the hospital. Building on their success in achieving the Soil Association’s Food for Life Served Here Award (FFLSH) in 2016, this year Freeman Catering achieved further accreditation for their hard work, improving the sustainability of energy, water and waste in their kitchen with the Green Kitchen Standard (GKS). 

Freeman Hospital Catering TeamFreeman Hospital aim to reduce waste, energy and water consumption by 28% by 2020 (from a 2013 baseline) and have been using the GKS framework to support their aims and provide clear actions for improvement. Working towards the FFLSH award improved the sustainability of their menus through local procurement and use of ethically produced ingredients. 

Amy Johnston, sustainability officer at Freeman Hospital, explains the changes the catering team have made to the menu and kitchen practices. 

Which changes have you made in the catering operationally to increase sustainability?
We introduced many new measures reduce the carbon emissions of our catering department. From upgrading old equipment, to training and communicating with staff about our environmental aims.

By introducing two anaerobic digesters for plate waste we have save over 3 Olympic sized swimming pools of water annually, in comparison to the macerators they replaced. Utilising a waste compactor; which reduces the volume of the recyclable waste, has lead to a reduction in transport costs and associated carbon emissions.

The GKS provided a framework for us to work to. This supported us in improving communications to staff and customers about our environmental initiatives and performance, through posters, graphs, information round the restaurant and key features, such as water coolers. We have also implemented a Green News newsletter and new communications to new starters. 

We updated our refrigeration to a more energy efficient system. The total energy and carbon savings have reached around 50% This improvement has also been supported by upgraded ovens. 

We created a Food Waste Minimisation plan. This supports the reduction of food waste and in doing so reduces the carbon hidden in its procurement, storage and production. Training has been in key engaging staff with regards to waste, water and energy and how they can report any issues they see.

How have you increased the sustainability of your menus? 
Keeping to the Food for Life Served Here standards means that we have no genetically modified ingredients on our menus, no undesirable additives or artificial trans fats, all eggs from free range hens, no fish are served from the Marine Conservation Society ‘fish to avoid’ list, all meat is from farms which satisfy UK animal welfare standards. With at least 75% of dishes on our menu freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients we are developing our teams cooking skills and providing a great service to patients, staff and visitors to the hospital. Additionally, 24% of food spend is on UK produced meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, oil, sugar and flour and 3.6% of the food spend is on Fairtrade certified products. 

At Freeman Restaurant, we have monthly meat-free days on the last Wednesday of each month. The monthly meat-free days build on our commitment to provide more seasonal, organic and locally sourced food for our patient and staff menus. 

The Impact
Freeman Hospital have used their Green Kitchen Standard and Food for Life Served Here Award to apply for a number of sustainable food and catering awards with great success. Freeman Catering has won a NHS Sustainability Award (2017) and a Green Apple Award (2017) with great feedback from judges.

The catering department has supported the Better Health at Work Award by helping with initiatives such as the hydration day by supplying water and providing a fruit and veg box for staff to purchase each month. 

Freeman have reduced the number of food miles and the carbon associated with their menu. They have done this by increasing the number of local producers and suppliers they use, which in turn supports the local economy in and around Newcastle.

The standard gave Freeman Catering the opportunity to forge closer links between the catering and sustainability teams to create a fully rounded approach to sustainable catering. Now, the catering and sustainability teams regularly touch base. This has allowed for better sharing of information and for the teams to really celebrate their success. Engaged staff can help are helping to reduce the amount of wastage, as they feel empowered to make a change, are aware of the behaviours to avoid, and can identify common themes of wastage in the kitchen.

To find out more about the standards Freeman hospital have achieved, the process for application and to book an appointment with your local FFLSH and GKS development manager, contact us on catering@soilassociation.org.

"If the NHS is to properly promote health as well as deal with ill-health, then it must look to the food it provides. "Hospital Food Standards Panel Report, 2014

Food for Life Served Here