FoodSHIFT Brasov: About sustainable food systems, small producers, healthy food and engaged communities

During the week of 5 – 11 September, dedicated to the Forum of Green Cities (FOV) in Brasov, Highclere Consulting S.R.L. contributed to the FOV objective by highlighting the theme of “sustainable food” at the city level, through a workshop organised within the framework of the European FoodSHIFT2030 Project.

The workshop brought together representatives of municipalities and research from five cities in Europe (Ostend – Belgium, Wroclaw – Poland, Copenhagen – Denmark, Bari – Italy, Berlin – Germany) and Romania (Brasov, Alba Iulia, Sibiu, Cluj). The aim of the workshop was to define the term “food governance” at local level and to identify the mechanisms and actions needed to implement this definition.

What does food governance mean?

Food exists as a topic on the public agenda in the form of public procurement for school canteens, hospitals or as social assistance for different groups or local markets. But this does not mean that issues such as ensuring that food travels the shortest distances, pricing policies that ensure healthy and affordable food for all sections of society, involving local producers in public procurement or promoting local gastronomy and identity are also taken into account.

Food governance brings together all the interactions between different social groups in the city and their need for healthy food. It also involves the collaboration of different public authorities involved in the production, processing, distribution of food and the way food is served, perceived and consumed.

“We aim through the Acceleration Lab in Brasov (FAL Brasov) to facilitate and support a collaborative working environment by forming a Food Council and promoting concepts such as: short food chains, interactive food hub – revitalising the STAR market, menus promoting local gastronomy, green public procurement prioritising local producers and food education, promoting educational urban gardens”, said Raluca Barbu, FAL Brasov coordinator, Highclere Consulting.

During the workshop, the representatives of the cities mentioned above showed, through their experiences, that the application of food governance leads to: cost reduction, healthier food for the inhabitants, training of staff in public canteens, protection of spaces dedicated to local producers in the face of uncontrolled urban development, ensuring food for all social categories, as well as changing consumers into engaged citizens.

The Mayor of Brasov, Allen Coliban, present at the opening of the event, said: “Having started in Brasov a Health Hub, SDG3 Health Hub, within the FOV (Forum of Green Cities), we are convinced that we have a lot in common with healthy food, how it can reach the tables of Brasov citizens or how we can implement the idea of an urban garden in our city. We are also interested in a hot meal programme in schools in Brasov, to have canteens that cook for children and the elderly, with local, healthy products. The experience of this project will also help us at local government level,” said Allen Coliban.

For a coherent approach, the involvement of Brasov County Council is vital. “Participating in this event has better clarified our role and the next steps our institution needs to take to start talking about a food strategy,” said Alina Szasz, Public Manager, County Council Brasov.

Both institutions have declared their intention to support and be actively involved in this initiative.

From Romania, the initiatives supported in Sibiu county, European Gastronomic Region in 2019, through the project “Tastes from Sibiu”, which promotes local gastronomy through flying markets, mountain products and local gastronomic points, were presented.

Line Rise Nielsen (Changing Food – Copenhagen): “It is not enough to make strategies on paper only! It is important that local authorities work with all stakeholders involved, both to ensure healthy food and to create a Food Council to articulate a common vision and ensure the implementation of the actions in the strategy. We also need to increase education and engage new generations to have a healthy community in the city”.

In Brasov, in the remaining 15 months of implementation, the Lab focuses on supporting the aggregation of local producers, reinventing the concept of “local market”, recommendations on integrating local producers in public procurement (especially in schools) and outlining the first food strategy. A series of consultations will be organised in the coming period.

More images from the meeting: facebook.