Why sustainable food procurement?

The Food Tent

The Food Tent (Photo credit: Jon Person)

Why should local government get involved?
“Sustainability focuses on providing the best outcomes for both the human and natural environments now, and into the indefinite future.”
The UK Government buys £13 billion worth of goods and services each year, for the wider public sector this figure is £125 billion (1).  This year, the UK’s 468 local authorities will spend over £80 billion on day to day services – over a quarter of all public expenditure (2).
It is clear that with such significant buying power the public sector can make a great deal of difference if it changes its buying habits, creating a large market for more sustainable products and ways of procuring those products.
But why sustainable food?
As for all public sector activities, it is important that a policy can be shown to benefit the local community.  How food is served, prepared, purchased and produced can have a significant impact on the health of individuals, communities and their environment.
For local councils sustainable food is about (2):
• Promoting good health
• Having access to healthy food.
• Supporting the local economy by buying food from as close by as possible
• Eating food in season
• Sustainable farming, involving high environmental standards and reduced energy consumption
• Promoting animal welfare, and valuing nature and biodiversity
• Fair prices, fair trade and ethical employment in the UK and overseas.
Food procurement not only effects the wider global environment but also directly affects the health of the individuals who eat it.
Sustainable food procurement allows both the healthy eating, economic and environmental agenda to be combined and acted upon . It gives local government an opportunity to take the lead in a field where we can truly make a difference to our local communities.
For more info and a toolkit, please visit FOOD VISION

Do Mobile Food Markets Increase Urban Food Access?

English: A montage of Kansas City

English: A montage of Kansas City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can expanding the value of SNAP assistance and implementing a mobile farmers market have an appreciable effect on urban inner city communities? Two metro areas are trying to find out. Camden, NJ and Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri have implemented programs to match the value of SNAP assistance as well as using mobile fresh food markets to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to inner city neighborhoods that otherwise are isolated in food deserts. Both locations have teamed up with foundations, nonprofits, and government agencies as well as a solid Food Access organization to create this opportunity. Is this a sustainabile model? Both cities depend on philanthropy and/or government funds for these pilot programs. A sustainable business model for community development may need to enter the equation to keep these programs going.

Camden, NJ
Camden is a highly impoverished and crime-ridden city located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, PA. Camden is a tough city, though it is filled with resilient people and a fast-changing demographic that is seeing neighborhoods shift from African-American to Hispanic. There is only one chain retail grocery store in Camden, located on the outer southern edge of the city. Inside the city there are corner stores, convenience marts, dollar stores, and CVS that provide food to the 75,000 people in the city, many of whom rely on public transit to get around. Across the river (5 minutes by subway) is downtown Philadelphia, home to the Reading Marketplace (a 7 day a week indoor vendor market with fresh foods), Whole Foods Store on South Street (a community partnership store), and the Italian Marketplace – with a 100+ years of fresh produce sales to the trade and to the public. Yet, Philadelphia may as well be on the moon as Camden residents do not travel there for food.
The latest response to bring fresh food to Camden is a mobile farmer market via the Greensgrow Farms. Greensgrow is a very successful social enterprise that has a nonprofit Philadelphia Project and a for-profit nursery and farm. Greensgrow serves the urban neighborhoods of Philadelphia with fresh food, SNAP benefits (matching funds to make food stamp dollars go farther), and sustainable growing practices for food and ornamentals that produce jobs. The Greensgrow Mobile Market started in summer 2011 with 4 stops in Camden, including the Rutgers University campus which sits in the center of Camden’s downtown waterfront neighborhood. Greensgrow is offering up a selection of traditional summer fruits and vegetables as well as produce familiar to Hispanic families such as Jicama and peppers.
The Greensgrow effort complements the existing summer farmer market program that has 3 locations in Camden, each open one day a week that have been supported by a Greensgrow partner – AHEC The Area Health Education Center. The state of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs provided a $100,000 grant to get the mobile market going.
Greensgrow is using this summer program as a pilot to determine if their brand of farming, growing, and business would be a good fit for Camden. Their farming strategy includes raised beds (perfect for the brownfield vacant lots in Camden) and encouraging local residents to embrace the farmed land and gardens as part of the community. Camden already has a wealth of experience with small neighborhood gardens and backyard gardens with hundreds created over the years thanks to a cultivation program organized by The Children’s Garden. The Greensgrow approach to urban farming may well be a good fit for Camden.
Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri
There are two places named Kansas City – one in Kansas is the smaller city, and the other in Missouri is the larger metro anchor. Each has its share of poverty and low income people in their inner-city neighborhoods. Cultivate KC – a strong, nonprofit, food access organization has teamed up with the Menorah Foundation and other philanthropic partners to create a SNAP benefit program for farmers markets as well as a mobile program to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to these neighborhoods. Beans & Greens is a pilot program that provides a 2:1 match for SNAP funds spent at one of their 6 participating partner farmer markets or in the 3 neighborhoods served by the mobile market. The mobile program gets to each neighborhood once per week. It includes fruits and vegetables that are of particular interest to Hispanic families. Upwards of 15-20% of the population in the main urban counties in the Kansas City metro on both sides of the state line is receiving SNAP assistance from the Federal government.
Beans & Greens also seeks to expand its impact by supporting community gardens in more urban neighborhoods and assist those neighborhoods in growing their way to fresh food access. The urban neighborhoods in Kansas City are considered urban food deserts. While there are supermarkets and chain grocery stores available in the urban core, they are often clustered at the edges of the core and few if any are found in the center which would be more accessible to residents, especially those dependent on public transit. Corner stores, convenience marts, CVS and Walgreens, and ethnic markets are available, but often have limited selection (if any) of fresh produce and costs are sometimes high.
The Beans & Greens SNAP match is an innovative way of creating a financial incentive for families to eat healthy foods.

Source: Sustainable Cities Collective

¿ Cómo protege la UE a los consumidores europeos de los productos peligrosos ?

Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Cons...

Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumer Protection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

La legislación europea garantiza una protección elevada y uniforme de la salud y la seguridad de los consumidores, para ello, los productos comercializados en el mercado interior se someten a exigencias generales de seguridad y, en caso de que se detecte una amenaza grave para los consumidores, se pone en marcha un sistema de alerta rápida: RAPEX (regulado por la Directiva 2001/95/CE).

Gracias a este sistema, los Estados miembros pueden informar inmediatamente a la Comisión, a la que deben remitir:

  • La información que permita identificar el producto.
  • Una descripción del riesgo que comporta el producto, así como cualquier documento que permita evaluarlo.
  • Las medidas adoptadas (preventivas o restrictivas).
  • La información sobre la distribución del producto.
  • Si el riesgo grave tiene un efecto transfronterizo.
Los datos de RAPEX contribuyen a:
  • Impedir y limitar el suministro de productos peligrosos a los consumidores.
  • Supervisar la eficacia y la coherencia de las actividades de vigilancia del mercado y las medidas destinadas a garantizar el cumplimiento de la normativa por parte de las autoridades de los Estados miembros.
  • Identificar las necesidades y proporcionar una base para actuar a nivel de la UE.
  • Garantizar la aplicación coherente de las exigencias comunitarias en materia de seguridad de los productos y, de este modo, el buen funcionamiento del mercado interior.

Los Estados miembros están obligados a utilizar este sistema cuando:

  • No puede descartarse que un producto peligroso se haya vendido a los consumidores en más de un Estado miembro de la UE.
  • No puede descartarse que un producto peligroso se ha vendido a los consumidores a través de internet.
  • El producto procede de un tercer país y es probable que se haya importado en la UE a través de varios canales de distribución.

Más información aqui
O en el portal de la Unión Europea.

European Parliament set to pass new consumer rights bill into law

The official emblem of the European Parliament.

The official emblem of the European Parliament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consumers and businesses alike should reap the benefits of new consumer rights legislation in Europe, with years of negotiations set to conclude with the approval by the European Parliament on Thursday (23 June) of the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive.

Last week (16 June), the Parliament’s internal market and consumer protection (IMCO) committee backed at first reading a compromise agreement on the draft law reached on 6 June between representatives of all three EU institutions, paving the way for this week’s first-reading vote in plenary.
‘Win-win’ situation for businesses, consumers
“Consumers and businesses will equally win. We are a big step closer to a truly common internal market in Europe,” said German centre-right MEP Andreas Schwab (European People’s Party), who is steering the directive through the Parliament, ahead of the vote.
Describing the directive as “a good compromise between necessary consumer rights and justified business interests,” Schwab said it would serve as an example of where “more Europe” benefits shoppers and traders alike.
Brussels has been wrestling with the legislation since it was first tabled by the European Commission back in 2008 (see ‘Background’).
“More safety for consumers shopping online and common rules for businesses – these are the headlines of the political agreement between the Parliament and the Council on the Consumer Rights Directive,” said Schwab.
An EU-wide right for consumers to change their minds about purchase decisions within two weeks and clearer pricing rules for Internet sales were among changes made to the draft legislation by representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission and member states in trialogue talks earlier this month.
That deal was backed unanimously by the IMCO committee with 28 votes in favour, none against and three abstentions.

Source: EurActiv

Plymouth’s pioneering local food project

Plymouth City Council logo "Coat of arms&...

Plymouth City Council logo “Coat of arms”. Plymouth City Council . . Retrieved 2008-09-02 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A city-wide food project in Plymouth is set to be a shining example for the rest of the UK on sustainable food sourcing in urban areas. The Plymouth Food Project aims to help make Plymouth Britain’s first ‘Sustainable Food City’.
As part of this initiative The Plymouth Food Procurement Project is supporting local producers to supply fresh fruit and vegetables into Plymouth’s schools and hospitals. The project is led by the Soil Association and The Barefoot Partnership Ltd and involves a city-wide partnership of public sector organisations including Plymouth City Council, University of Plymouth and NHS Plymouth.
Plymouth’s Food Charter, launched in February this year, aims to promote a thriving economy, health and well being, resilient and close knit communities, life long learning and skills, and a reduced eco footprint. Over 30 Plymouth-based organisations are now signed up to help deliver these aims, these include; Transition Plymouth, Riverford Organic Vegetables, National Marine Aquarium, Gribble’s Butchers, Tamar View Fruiterers and Stiltskin Theatre Company.
The food and drink sector employs nearly 250,000 people in the South West and makes up 8% of total economic output. Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector, largest retailing sector and is a key tourist attraction, accounting for one third of visitor spending.
Traci Lewis of the Soil Association, coordinator of Plymouth Food Project, said:
“This is a truly pioneering project which could provide the blue print for sustainable cities across the UK. It’s a winner for everyone involved. Not only do the residents of Plymouth get more fresh, tasty, good quality local food on the menu, the increase in the amount of locally produced food and drink sold into Plymouth’s public sector is great news for a thriving local economy and the local farmers, growers and food businesses who supply the produce.”
Visit www.foodplymouth.org to sign up to the Food Charter and find out more.
For full Plymouth Food Procurement project report and case studies visit www.southwestfoodanddrink.com

Liverpool eatright

Liverpool waterfront

Liverpool waterfront (Photo credit: djmcaleese)

Food Champion Application: Improving community diet and nutritionLiverpool City Council and PCT have created the ‘Eatright Liverpool’ project to help takeaway businesses and restaurants offer healthier dishes by suggesting ways to reformulate popular meals and by identifying inherently more healthy options.
Currently working closely with Liverpool John Moores University (in the research phase) on recipe development and evaluation, this ongoing project will also provide training for catering staff on food hygiene and nutrition. The provision of nutritional software for businesses to assess the nutrition content of their dishes is also being explored. If the research proves successful, participating establishments promoting the nutritionally improved meals will be entitled to display the ‘Eatright Liverpool’ Award Certificate.
Liverpool City Council Trading Standards Department (TSD) analysed 300 takeaway meals for various nutritional parameters. Many meals had excessive amounts of salt, fat and calories. One meal was found to contain nearly 5 times the RDA of salt for an adult (6g).
A study –“Survey of Food Habits and Attitudes in Liverpool” commissioned by Liverpool Primary Care Trust (Jon Dawson Associates, 2007) found that, of the residents interviewed, 39% eat takeaway meals or fast food once or twice a week. Importantly, 45% of the younger age groups (20-24 year olds) eat from these outlets once or twice a week. At these levels, takeaway food has become established as a regular part of the diet for Liverpool residents and as such plays a major role in public health. A comprehensive Literature Review (as yet unpublished) of 164 research and academic papers undertaken by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) for TSD resulted in a number of recommendations for further research to include
•A better understanding of the consumer –nutrient environment
•An understanding of the geographical provision of takeaway food in the city
•A consideration of points of purchase intervention – nutritional labelling or signposting
•Nutritional education for businesses and consumers
•Recipe development and reformulation to produce healthier options of popular meals
•Incentives or awards to engage businesses

For more information, please visit FOOD VISION

Developing Sustainable Food Chains Project

P Food

P Food (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Around 1,000 food and drink supply chain businesses are getting involved with SWFD to make local produce more available in South West England’s major towns and cities.
The Project will create 20 new supply chains and develop seven toolkits to support future activity by SMEs by providing learning and information for local sustainable food and drink projects.
The Project is run for SW RDA, which is investing a total of £695,000 (£400,000 directly on delivery work and £295,000 on strategic added value, monitoring, evaluation & management and developing associated case studies, toolkits and replicable business models). The individual projects will collectively generate a further £1.7 million in direct, match and aligned funding.
The Project runs from August 2010 to December 2011 and is the culmination of the SW RDA’s framework programme of targeted intervention for the food and drink sector in South West England. Since 2008 the SW RDA has invested approximately £1.7 million in the food and drink sector.
To find out more and to get involved, click here

CAP budget status quo

Voting on a draft own-initiative report by German MEP Albert Dess (European People’s Party), the committee said that the EU’s farm budget should be kept at least at its current level when the policy is reformed from 2014, “in order to meet the challenges of food security, environmental protection and climate change”. The CAP budget is currently worth €55 billion a year and amounts to 40% of the bloc’s total annual spending.

The report represents the lawmakers’ first response to a European Commission paper on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2020, published in November 2010.

Fairer distribution
The committee further noted that CAP money should be distributed more fairly between member states and farmers. They demanded that in future “each EU country should receive a minimum percentage of EU average payments,” with direct payments reserved for “active farmers”, the definition of which is yet to be agreed upon.
The ‘old’ member states of the EU-15 currently receive more financial support per farmer than the newer member states, and some of the payments go to wealthy landowners who do not necessarily use their land for production.
MEPs also backed Commission proposals to introduce a ceiling on direct payments per farmer and suggested that the size, the employment record and the degree of environmental protection of each farm should be taken into account when deciding on payments.


Workshop “Evidence on European Land Use”

A map of land use in Europe. Yellow: cropland ...

A map of land use in Europe. Yellow: cropland and arable, light green: grassland and pasture, dark green: forest, light brown: tundra or bogs, unshaded areas: other (including towns and cities). Underlying map is a terrain map. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Land Use and Land Use Change in Europe used to be mainly addressed from a thematic perspective. However, land-use characteristics are becoming increasingly multi-functional, crossing not only sectors but also administrative boundaries. This leads to an increasing demand for background information and institutional and administrative structures.
Following this demand the ESPON 2013 Programme started a project on European Land Use Patterns: EU-LUPA. In cooperation with this project a workshop was organized in order to shed some light on the various aspects related to Land Use and Land Cover in Europe and to bring together some important players in this field.
AimThe aim of the workshop was to share experiences, to transfer knowledge and to contribute to the debate on Land Use in Europe and ways in which its assessment can be approached. This facilitated a pan-European discussion and enabled the EU-LUPA project to present their perspective and progress, and discuss the validity of their results achieved so far.


Source: ESPON – Click here for more info