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How Universities can take part

How Universities can take part


Make British Food Fortnight a fixture on your university calendar and celebrate British food ‘on a budget’!

British Food Fortnight coincides with Freshers' Fairs in most universities where students, many of whom are catering for themselves for the first time, are often in the food debate.

University caterers are invited to run British Food Fortnight promotions in student cafes and canteens; set up stalls at Freshers' Fairs to promote the healthy benefits of British seasonal food; and offer cooking demonstrations of simple recipes for students.

Why take part?

Taking part in British Food Fortnight has lots of potential for university caterers as it generates great PR, is proven to increase the number of people eating in your restaurants and will establish a point of different between your university outlets and those that serve only bland mainstream products.

Ideas for taking part

1. Promote a special British Food Fortnight menu in your university restaurants or canteens for the Fortnight. Either enhance your existing menu or offer students a special British food promotion.

2. Offer cookery demonstrations for freshers using simple recipes and guidance for students about where they can buy fresh, healthy, affordable ingredients.

3. Add a paragraph to the catering pages of the University website about your activities and menus during British Food Fortnight and provide advice on eating healthily and variedly.

4. Set up a stall at Fresher Fair to advertise the healthy benefits of British seasonal food and promote your menus.

5. Promote your participation in the national food promotion by using British Food Fortnight's promotional material to decorate your outlets.

If you are a student and would like to get your university involved, why not organise an entry into the Harvest Community Competition, organised in conjunction with the Telegraph, and win a stunning prize.

Working with the Media

See our Media Pages for advice on maximising your media coverage during the Fortnight and for a guide to writing a press release

Sourcing British food

Sourcing products that are part of assurance schemes is a powerful way of demonstrating that you are serving quality produce and that it is fully traceable to the producer. British Food Fortnight is an opportunity to find new suppliers, source more sustainably and receive publicity for doing so.

The main ‘umbrella’ assurance schemes such as Red Tractor are explained on our Logos and Marks page.

Some food types and regional food and drink products are part of additional schemes and these are explained on the pages for each specific food:

Some pointers towards sourcing locally are:

  • Contact your existing suppliers to see whether the produce they currently supply you with is British.
  • Send current and new suppliers a copy of the menu you would like them to supply British food for and invite them to pitch for the business.
  • Don’t be put off by prices that initially may seem higher. Buying large volumes can make the whole process affordable.
  • Consider forming a partnership with other public organisations to aggregate demand and make savings through bulk purchase.
  • Larger suppliers can still provide local produce: be specific when talking to them about what you want and don’t shy away from specifying local products as part of your requirements.
  • Involve your client in the sourcing process. If they are concerned about increased costs explain that healthy eating is a hot topic at the moment and their employees/customers will expect them to respond to this. Good food is a corporate benefit!
  • Talk to your suppliers to overcome difficulties that may arise if you are a large caterer trying to work with small suppliers. For example, the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) has a purchasing model that enables six Peak District farms to supply meat to one butcher who in turn supplies seven youth hostels in the area.
  • Make sure that the relevant internal structures are in place. Nottingham City Hospital started to source milk from a local dairy. The relationship with the dairy itself worked very well but ensuring that the milk was distributed to the different hospital sites required some internal adjustments.
  • If fragmented supply is a problem, encourage producers to form a co-operative that better meets your needs.
  • Consider forming a partnership with other public organisations to aggregate demand and make savings through bulk purchase.
  • Set up a customer group involving the catering team, suppliers and your clients so that expectations are managed on both sides and problems can be easily resolved.
  • Buy in-season products that are often available at competitive prices in order to achieve value for money. 

Case Studies

University of Exeter: the university ran some fantastic British Food Fortnight foodie events at one of their premier venues on campus, Reed Hall. Reed Hall organised a ‘Taste of Britain’ campaign, where award-winning head chef, Nicky Stanbury served up a daily authentic dish  from a different region of the British Isles over the course of the two week celebration.

“It was great fun taking part in British Food Fortnight this year. Our Chefs did a fantastic job with our ‘A Taste of Great Britain’ menu, with the haggis and venison dishes proving particularly popular. The red, white and blue cupcakes also went down a treat and we had lots of entries to our prize draw to win a luxury hamper of local Devon produce. Students really engage with British Food Fortnight, particularly international students, who enjoy this taste of Britain. It is interesting and a bit different for them. We're already looking forward to taking part again next year!” Kate Concah, Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator.

Cardiff University: Cardiff University ran a special British Food Fortnight menu in the 3 main restaurants - Main Building Dining Room, Trevithick Restaurant and the JHB lounge Restaurant - throughout the 2 weeks. All the vegetables and meats were supplied by local suppliers and all fish was purchased fresh from the local fishmonger. To see a sample British Food Fortnight menu from Cardiff University.

University of Brighton: the in-house caterers organised lots of promotions across the campus for British Food Fortnight. They made a special effort to include British dishes on the campus menu; switched to supplying British fruit and vegetables for the Fortnight; put British Food Fortnight promotional posters up all round the campus; provided students with 5 A DAY handouts, seasonal eating charts and a recipe card on how to make some of the dishes being sold in the canteen. The activities were such a success that half-way through lunch on the first day the main healthy meal on the British Food Fortnight promotion had already sold out! To read the full case study about how the University of Brighton took part click on the box on the right hand side of this page.

Birmingham University: the university organised healthy eating promotions in their student hub to celebrate British Food Fortnight. Mark Houghton, Executive Chef said, “By promoting true local British produce through our student areas during intake we not only found our sales rise significantly but we had very positive customer feed back too. This is important to us at the start of term as it helps us gain a loyal customer base from the new student. We are now continuing to promote British produce by including this within our ethos statement for our new Brand which we will be launching in the New Year”.