Cool Food Pro is a carbon calculator specially designed for caterers to make meaningful change to their menus, so they can confidently deliver more climate-friendly food.
Funded by the Interreg France (Channel) England programme, Cool Food Pro project was set up to make catering more sustainable, by supporting caterers to design and deliver climate-smart menus. They have specially designed a web app to help caterers change how they plan menus and source their ingredients to minimise their impact on the environment.
The web app is called Cool Food Pro, and it’s a carbon savings calculator created with and for caterers. It calculates the environmental impact of potential changes to the caterer's current practice and gives step-by-step advice on where to make improvements. The app is also free and simple to use.
When caterers sign up, they also get access to a library of resources including sustainable recipes, guides on good practice and communications materials to help share and celebrate the changes.
The Cool Food Pro team say: “Cool Food Pro is an opportunity to discover the impacts your practices are having on your environmental footprint and to be supported to make positive changes. Cool Food Pro sites will be a leading example for others in the catering sector to follow.”
Norse Catering, based in Norfolk and Suffolk, have already used the tool to reduce their carbon impact. They decided to pilot the tool at two schools they cater for in Norfolk and chose to reduce the meat in their beef bolognese and increase the amount of organic produce used. They now offer organic yoghurt on a daily basis, and the beef they serve is 100% organic.
Norse have committed to swapping 10g beef per portion with a pea-based replacement. When they trialled this menu change at the school, they calculated that they saved 74kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, improved the quality of 12,607 litres of water, and reduced the impact on biodiversity. They’re developing the recipe to make sure it has the same nutritional content for the kids and, of course, that it’s delicious.
Craig Neale, Compliance Manager at Norse Catering, says: “The tool is user friendly and easy to navigate. The visual effects of the savings you're making are a real positive and help present the data in a really meaningful way.” Their chefs, customers, and Business Account Managers have all responded positively to the changes, so Norse now plan to expand the changes across more schools and into care homes too.
Deborah Taylor, Sustainable Catering Project Manager for Cool Food Pro at Soil Association Food for Life says: "Cool Food Pro is a free, easy to use carbon calculator enabling caterers to reduce their environmental impact by making changes to their menus and purchasing. The easy to view CO2 savings supports caterers to understand and share the impact they are making with the food they serve."
Cool Food Pro has also been making connections with large professional caterers in France. As part of plans to keep scaling up the project, they have recruited 50 primary and middle schools in Britanny, 5 middle schools in Hauts-de-France, CROUS (an education authority based in Brittany), almost 10 medico-social centres and 3 Breton hospitals: Brest, Rennes and Saint Malo to participate in the project as pilot and roll-out sites.
Notably, Brest University Hospital has been producing 6,400 meals a day for employees and patients, has committed to a healthier and more sustainable offer by modifying its purchases and menus step by step. More than 25 targets have taken on the levers proposed by the Cool Food Pro calculator: around the development of a vegetarian offer, the fight against food waste and the development of organic and local products.
The savings made in the context of reducing food waste has made it possible to finance more expensive products such as organic flour and milk. The project will also launch a new food plan in September, with healthier and more sustainable products. The University Hospital has already saved 121 tons of CO2e, more than 16,000 m3 of water, and avoided the imported deforestation of 5,683 m2!
The project, which closes in June 2023, has a total budget of €1,579,438, of which €1,089,812 has been financed by the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme. Five project partners are behind the project: University of Western Brittany, MAB29, PECT, the Soil Association and LABOCEA.
Project website: https://www.coolfoodpro.net/en/