Amsterdam Helps Bring Sustainable Food to the City Level
Project concept: cities and the food companies that supply them working together to meet the changing needs of the consumers, customers and the public.
Draft: April 9, 2007
February 2007 at the Sustainable Food Lab sponsored meeting in London the Deputy Mayor of city of Amsterdam offered to host a meeting focused on sustainable food strategies for large metropolitan areas. That invitation spurred interest in establishing an International Association/Alliance of Large Metropolitan Areas which includes the full range of stakeholders associated with providing sustainable food to large cities and focuses on sustainable agricultural and distribution strategies for cities and city regions. This interest grows out of many significant but disparate efforts in Paris, Copenhagen, Rome, Amsterdam, New York and London where officials are working to influence public support of more sustainable food.
Large school foodservice operations in many of these cities have incentives to change because they are hearing demands from different stakeholders: government, activists, nutritionists, parents, students, teachers and the foodservice companies that supply them. Because of this, the most significant question is not “whether” to change but increasingly, “how?”
Because cities are at various stages in this transition period, the Alliance will provide them with the opportunity to exchange invaluable ‘on the ground’ knowledge about what works, what doesn’t, and why. Europeans can provide experience with procurement strategies, and cities in the U.S. have working models of public investments in school-based food and nutrition education. On both continents cities are interested in creating distribution centers and market outlets in large urban areas that facilitate consumers’ access to sustainable or regional food.
Specific activities of the big cities network would be:
- Sharing learning and stories. This would build on AlimenTerra work in surveying best practice in public food systems across much of Europe and the United States, consisting of 70 to 90 surveys/best practice case studies and analysis. An AlimenTerra guide for key stakeholders on how to set up sustainable public food systems, funded by the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation, will be completed at the end of 2007. The network would actively share best practice stories as well as inspirational change stories appropriate to the size and opportunities of each city.
- Matching “sister cities” to form relationships between US and EU cities to integrate tourism aspirations around being a food destination with the quality of public procurement and of food available in restaurants and out of home food outlets. Experience has shown that a connection to a city from outside the normal context can provide unusual inspiration and ideas.
- Annual Forums bringing together diverse cities, NGOs, and food companies to learn from the most exciting cases of food system change. The forums will be hosted by cities (e.g. Amsterdam) or integrated with existing forums such as the Kellogg Food and Society conference.
- Collaboration between innovative public procurement efforts and the food companies that source and distribute at scale to meet those needs. Cities, food companies, producers, non-profits, academia, and government are all working in various ways on defining “fresh, local, healthy, sustainable foods”. Bringing these voices together in a large city forum can help ensure that the development of procurement practices for private catering and public procurement incentivize sustainable foods in a realistic manner and are consistent through the supply chain.
Amsterdam in November 2008: meeting/conference on City/Metropolitan food and agricultural strategies, focusing on:
- How to create supply infrastructures that maximizes the availability and use of local/regional/sustainable products within the context of very large demand and limited local/regional/sustainable supply;
- How a more direct and local/regional/sustainable supply distribution infrastructure can lead to increased connections between producers and consumers and serve as an educational vehicle for consumers to understand more about the natural and farmed environments; and
- The specific role of large urban/metropolitan areas in developing sustainable food systems locally/regionally and globally.
This initiative would build on three existing networks that bring together cities and food service companies in both the US and Europe.
AlimenTerra is forming a European alliance centered on public procurement.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is invested in addressing this question with key players in school meal reform efforts from some of the largest urban school districts in the country through an Urban School Food Network (USFN), representing the collective market power of cities nationwide. This initiative originated through a WKKF-sponsored meeting that took place in New York City in September, 2005 conducted by the SchoolFood Plus Initiative.
And the Sustainable Food Lab.
Last Updated (Thursday, 04 March 2010 15:57)