Food producers in Northern Ireland and the border counties are invited to come to “Meet the Buyer” events specifically designed to help small food businesses to tender for contracts with the Western Health and Social Care Trust and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
This initiative is supported by the Public Health Agency (PHA) who is encouraging small local producers of a variety of foods to consider tendering for contracts to the Trusts. Where historically these types of tenders have been awarded to businesses on the basis of supplying the whole region, the Trusts are now in a position to consider awarding a number of smaller contracts for supply on a more localised basis. This approach fits with the findings of research carried out under the Renaissance of Atlantic Food Authenticity and Economic Links (RAFAEL) programme, which identified that local food is best especially for the young, the elderly and those who are ill.
The overall all aim of these innovative events is to increase the proportion of fresh, sustainable and locally produced food procured by the Health Service onto the patient and staff menus.
In order to achieve this aim the Western Health and Social Care Trust and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust are seeking to secure food supply contracts with more local producers in a range of products.
These events will provide an opportunity for food producers and processors
to gain an understanding of the scope of the contracts;
to get an insight into the process involved in tendering for such contracts and;
to identify support and information available to them to build their capacity (where required) to enter this tender process;
The first of these events took place on Monday 7 March at the College of Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Enniskillen. Speaking at the event, Brendan Bonner, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Lead (West), PHA said: "Improving health is closely linked to economic growth. Evidence shows that when you improve income and wealth there are direct benefits for health and social well being. It’s important that as commissioners of services we make the vital links between these issues and stimulate the opportunities that can, on one hand, ensure we are promoting good diet and nutrition, but also creating scope for sustainable economic growth".
He added, "Northern Ireland is very dependent on its agriculture and agri food sector. We produce high quality products that are not only competitive in the wider economic market, but also ideal for the Health and Social care economy. It makes sense that we bridge these opportunities which will result in a win-win situation of all involved and demonstrate effective partnership working between Health and other Government Departments such as DARD and DETI."
A second “Meet the Buyer” event is being held in Belfast on Thursday 24 March 2011 in Knockbracken Healthcare Park. Women in Agriculture is organising both events on behalf of the Public Health Agency. If you would like to attend an event please contact Ann Orr on 028 66342996 or e-mail email@example.com
For further information
Contact the Public Health Agency on 028 9031 1611.
Caption for photograph attached:
Pictured at the Western Meet the Buyer event are, from left to right, Ann Orr, Women in Agriculture Event Organiser, Stephen Millar, Millar Meats, Jenny Farrell, Jenny’s Bakery and Coffee House and Eamon O’ Harte, Rural Connect DARD.