The Food Relations (FR) project is a European initiative that aims to create spaces for social, intercultural participation and the inclusion of migrants through food. The project is being developed in parallel within the European cities of Milan (Italy), Thessaloniki (Greece), Freiburg (Germany) and Barcelona-Hospitalet de Llobregat (Spain).
The pilot program that is being promoted by the Welfare and Development Association (ABD) in Catalonia, in collaboration with the Espigoladors Foundation, is an initiative aimed at social and labour integration, and is created to put immigrant and/or refugee women at risk of social exclusion, at the centre. The project is aimed at fostering interest and closeness between different cultural heritages from an empowerment perspective. It consists of a gender-based community process that is based on cooking as an inclusive element.
This project arises from the identification of two structural problems, the feminization of poverty, and the increase of racism and xenophobia, that encompasses various actions.
The Stages of the Project Culinary Empowerment
The first stage – and the longest in time – of the Food Relations project, is a complete training in the Community Intercultural Kitchen of Harvesting and Working, taught by Fundación Espigoladors. It lasts 5 months, and with this year’s pilot program, people from nine different countries have been trained.
It is through this course where the creation of new culinary products are developed with the intention of marketing it. This year’s product is a “Sanfaina” which is a sauce made of vegetables and tomatoes, and highlights a fusion of cultures that appreciates the different culinary traditions of the group. The sauce is 100% natural, handmade, high quality and created with local raw ingredients.
In order to be able to put the Sanfaina up for sale, the participants of the group created the Como en Familia brand, which signifies their self-employment of the project – which will begin from now on – and which allows them to organize their own community actions. With the help of the University Design Center of Barcelona BAU, a workshop was held that has resulted in the creation of this unique identity.
As for the pre-sanfaina stage, the cooking course focused on the creation of the Fusion Menu, which served as an intercultural recipe. This menu is healthy, sustainable and low cost. It aimed to improve cooking skills and bring out the participants’ culinary cultural heritages, and also to make the richness of the diversity of origin existing in the respective regions more relevant, creating meeting spaces around the kitchen healthy and sustainable.
The gastronomic offer included cassava ‘a la Catalana’ buns, traditional Moroccan pastaila bags, Montaditos on patacón, eggs stuffed with antipasti, and an orange fusion for dessert, a creation of the group made from all the different contributions.
Accompaniment and Insertion
In addition to all this, the ABD Comunidad Activa project has accompanied throughout the process the women participants in actions related to the insertion of work through individual itineraries of guidance and accompaniment to the search for work. In doing so, the FR has increased their employability and pre-work skills by 90 percent of the women involved in the project. One of the most relevant results of this process has been the insertion of five of the women involved in the field of cooking and catering, and the involvement of about 42 community agents.
One of the important points of the Food Relations is that it has had a very important rooting in the region, in this case Hospitalet, thanks to the Food Commission of the Community Health Board of Collblanc-la Torrassa, the Màrius Torres school, and the Families Association of the Charlie Rivel school, they have provided access to women participants and community social actors in the area. This has promoted a good inclusion of the FR in the current neighborhood network, and has enabled better cooperation with counterparts.
The group, in parallel with all the training actions, has also participated and organized various community activities around the kitchen with the intention of generating meeting spaces. These are the First Social and Solidarity and Migrant Economy Fair, in Can Batlló; the Festival of Diversity in the Marquesa Park of Hospitalet de Llobregat; the graduation party of the Charlie Rivel School, Hospitalet de Llobregat; and participation in the closing celebration of the Cycle III ‘Gaudir millora la salut’, of the ICI project, also in Hospitalet.
What’s to come in the future?
The FR is preparing to replicate the pilot program with new participants. With all this, it has been one of the fifteen projects chosen to participate in the 4th edition of the Barcelona Active Social Entrepreneurship Program during 2019. The objective of this program is to accompany the development of innovative social projects, from the idea to the start-up of a socially responsible and economically viable company. This support is serving to generate new synergies and refocus some aspects to generate a sustainable project over time.
As for the initiatives in cooperation with the European consortium, the documentary “Not Just Food”, produced by Bonobo Films, highlights them all. This September, the documentary has premiered in Italy, at the festival 76ena Muestra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia, and shows the social impact that FR has had on the participants and in what way. It will soon be released in Barcelona, Greece and Germany.
Secondly, the Good Practice Guide ‘Food as a key medium for social inclusion and intercultural dialogue’ will be presented on European-wide projects considered good practices and related to food and intercultural inclusion. This document has served to analyze the keys to success of these projects or actions with the aim of sharing them and transmitting their knowledge. It will be made public over the next few months in Catalan and Spanish, and presented in Barcelona as well.