City Interest Group

Sustainable School Catering

School catering represents a significant share of the procurement budget of many local governments. For the City of Turin (Italy), for example, this means delivering eight million meals a year, with a total annual value of approximately 40 million euro per year. The City Interest Group on sustainable school catering has been set up to enable cities to share their experiences on the topic and work towards achieving greater results for their sustainability goals.

The group is co-ordinated by ICLEI and includes the Procura+ Campaign participants Copenhagen, Malmö, Helsinki and Ghent and INNOCAT partner the City of Turin. In a series of webinars and face to face meetings, these cities discuss their achievements, goals and the challenges they face as they strive to procure sustainable catering services.

Municipality of Copenhagen (Denmark)

The Municipality of Copenhagen set itself the goal of serving 90 percent organic food in its public kitchens by 2015. In order to achieve this goal, Copenhagen has joined forces with the Copenhagen House of Food which aims to improve the quality of meals offered by the City to its citizens and to create a healthy, happy and sustainable public food culture.

More information on Copenhagen’s procurement is available here.



City of Ghent (Belgium)

The City of Ghent’s Department of Education is responsible for the cities’ schools and nurseries and provides these facilities with approximately 4,000 meals a day. Until 2008 Ghent owned three centralised kitchens were warm meals were prepared daily for these facilities, before being delivered to the schools and nurseries.

However, due to a variety of reasons, including stricter hygiene regulations and difficulties with delivery caused by a high volume of city traffic, Ghent decided to close the central kitchens and published a tender for cook and chill vacuum meals. This tender included requirements for recyclable packaging, different portion sizes to keep food waste under control, “meatless Thursdays”, and as little transport as possible.

City of Helsinki (Finland)

The City of Helsinki provides catering services (through the city-owned company Palmia) to the cities’ schools, day-care centres, staff restaurants, hospitals, social service centres, retirement communities and homes. Palmia serves approximately 22 million meals a year.

The city wished to link their food catering service to their broader climate protection work and, in 2010, the ‘Responsible Meal 2012-15’ project was launched. This project included calculating the CO2 emissions of the catering services of the city as well as raising awareness of the impact food has on our climate.

More information on Helsinkis’ procurement is available here.

City of Malmö (Sweden)

The City of Malmö provides catering for kindergartens and schools, alongside homes for the elderly and those with disabilities. Malmö spends 15 million euro on food from wholesale providers each year – this includes all products except for dairy, fresh fish, fresh bread and fresh vegetables, for which there are separate contracts.

Malmö’s Policy for Sustainable Development and Food forms part of the City’s goal to achieve 100% sustainable procurement.

More information on Malmös’ procurement is available here.


City of Turin (Italy)

The City of Turin is strongly committed to sustainable catering, which forms a specific area of focus in the city’s Smart City Master Plan:  ‘Smart Mobility Inclusion Life & Health and Energy’ (SMILE).

School catering represents a significant part of the procurement budget for the City of Turin. Approximately 8 million meals are delivered annually, with a total value of approximately 40 million euro per year. The city is currently working on a policy which will provide sustainable criteria for all future food and catering procurements.

More information on Turins’ procurement is available here.

For further information on this group please contact: