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food | water

Food system transformation begins in the classroom 

ICLEI Europe has joined two new initiatives, bringing together food actors and advocates of sustainable public food procurement, organisations, cities and local as well as regional governments to boost healthier and more sustainable meals in schools and public settings, in line with the EU Farm to Fork strategy.

With the new EU-funded project SchoolFood4Change, ICLEI and partners engage 3,000 schools as catalysts for food system transformation, impacting 600,000 young people in 16 cities, and regional governments across 12 European countries. SchoolFood4Change brings all relevant food actors to one table: from students, parents and teachers, farmers, chefs and canteen staff to experts on sustainable food procurement, dietitians, and local enterprises. The project has a three-fold approach encompassing sustainable food procurement, planetary health diets and the holistic “Whole School Food Approach”, which aims to engage the entire school community to develop healthy and sustainable eating activities. 

In parallel, ICLEI joins forces with European municipalities, environmental, human rights and health non-profit organisations in the new Buy Better Food campaign. This new coalition of cities and organisations calls on EU and national leaders to introduce targets and measures helping schools, hospitals and public building canteens provide healthier food options. The campaign aims for EU institutions and member states to recognise and finance public food procurement as a key driver of change, steering Europe towards a more equitable food system and helping reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and health-related costs.

One of the municipalities that has already joined the campaign is Mouans-Sartoux in France – a pioneer in sustainable public food procurement.

Its Deputy Mayor, Gilles Parole, said: “We know that public bids can provide local authorities with ‘purchase power’ to make local food systems more sustainable. We now need the European institutions to do their part and include food-related rules in the EU’s public procurement directive.” 

Member of the European Parliament, chef and organic farmer Sarah Wiener, who acted as a rapporteur of the European Parliament report on the Farm to Fork Strategy supports both initiatives stating.

“Public procurement has the opportunity to incentivise more organic, sustainable and local production, leading to healthier diets and a fairer distribution of food in society,” Sarah said. “It is therefore high time that the EU sets targets to promote organic, sustainable and regional food in public canteens, in hospitals and in schools.” 

Through SchoolFood4Change and Buy Better Food, ICLEI aims to ensure sustainable produce becomes the norm in public food procurement.

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