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Public food procurement refers to food purchased by the government for settings such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and government departments.  

Each year England spends more than £2 billion on food and catering services. The Government Food Strategy (2022) stated that “Public sector food should be healthier, more sustainable”.  The Government Buying Standards (GBS) are a set of minimum mandatory standards that must be met when procuring food and catering services. There are new proposals which aim to promote menus that are more aligned with the government’s dietary recommendations as presented in the Eatwell Guide. These proposals include measures that aim to reduce salt and saturated fat consumption and increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

The Eatwell Guide is a pie-chart representing the UK government’s dietary advice. Previous research conducted by NDPH researchers estimated substantial population health gains if dietary recommendations were met by the entire population.  

This project should address at least one of the following questions in reference to at least one public food sector setting (e.g. a school, hospital, care home etc.)
  • How well does current food provision align or agree with the Eatwell Guide?
  • What dietary changes are required to improve agreement?
  • What would be the diet (and subsequent health) improvements if these changes were achieved?
  • What are the barriers and facilitators to implementing these changes? 
  • What are the ethical considerations of implementing food procurement changes aiming to promote healthy and sustainable diets?

The proposed project will involve a range of the following methods:

  • Collecting and evaluating sample menus from public food sector organisations
  • Assessing the nutritional and environmental impact of these menus and how well they agree/align with the Eatwell Guide
  • Interviews with relevant stakeholders to identify barriers and facilitators to implementing changes in a public food sector setting
  • Modelling health improvements


The project will mainly consist of desk-based research. The student will be based at NDPH. Training courses and a training budget will be available. 


The ideal candidate will have a Masters degree in a relevant area (e.g. diet/nutrition, statistics, public health, ethics). 


  • Mike Rayner
    Mike Rayner

    Professor of Population Health and Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention (CC PNP)