Fresh produce suppliers in the South West have the chance to bid for a new food contract to supply local schools.

Bath and North East Somerset Council is looking for small food producers to supply schools with locally-sourced produce under a new system that makes it easier for lots of small producers to get involved.

The council already runs a catering service to more than 60 primary schools and nurseries, and has switched its traditional procurement model with one supplier for each food category to one that favours more small producers.

Councillor Martin Veal told local paper TheBath Chronicle: 'We're making it much simpler for small, independent producers to supply food to our local schools.

'The contracts are being set up so that producers could supply anything from one to 60 schools – so you really don't need to be a big business to get involved. All local food producers and farmers will have a product that could be used in schools so I would encourage all of them to get involved so we can ensure local, good food is being eaten by our school children.'

The council is working with Bristol-based online retailer and distributor Fresh-Range to pilot the new system, which will also be promoted at farmers’ markets across Bath and North East Somerset.

The initial contracts will be announced in early August with the first deliveries to schools in early September. The tender process is open until 18 July, but there is also an opportunity to apply at a later date. Interested suppliers can apply here.