Good Food for London report names Merton as second best borough

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By James Phillips and Sara Hailan

Improving school food standards and sustainability schemes mean Merton is now the ‘Most Improved Good Food Borough’.

The recent Good Food for London 2012 report has given Merton the accolade, and it is second overall behind Islington.

The borough has achieved the silver catering mark for school dinners by working with the Marine Steward Council and not serving registered species of fish.

The report was released by London Food Link, an organisation within Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming.

Ross Compton, London Food Link Network Officer said: “We wouldn’t hide away from the fact that the weighting is heavily towards school food.”

However, there is much more to achieving a high standard in the food report and Merton has also been involved with the Capital Growth Campaign.

This is aimed at creating 2012 community food growing spaces across London by the end of the year.

Mr Compton confirmed that the topic of food is always on the agenda.

He explained: “We’ve been working for 10 years on all of these issues. There’s a whole range of different projects like Food For Life,Sustainable Fish City and the Capital Bee campaign.”

The Soil Association’s Food for Life catering mark accredits caterers who serve freshly prepared food which is environmentally friendly, free from additives and better for animal welfare.

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YMCA Wimbledon became part of the Health Improvement Team Responsibility deal in June 2012. By improving the health of the community, they believe they contributed towards Merton’s success.

Ben Mole, Marketing and Communications Officer for YMCA Wimbledon said: “It’s the little things we have done that I definitely believe have helped towards Merton’s big improvement as a Good Food borough. We’ve transformed menus, by introducing more grilled food and salads, using healthier oil and ensuring meals illustrate a balanced diet.

“Our fitness instructors also educate our customers on their nutrition and how to make the most of it.”

The healthy food campaigns are helping to stamp out obesity whilst promoting an improved lifestyle.

In 2007, obesity accounted for £4.2 billion in healthcare costs to the NHS.

Mr Mole spoke of how obesity has become a worrying trend.

 He added: “Everyone reads about obesity all the time in the press, and the healthy eating schemes we have implemented are all about giving people a choice.

 “We don’t just want people to have a healthy lunch or dinner, we want them to have a healthy lifestyle overall.”

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