Food For Thought allowed project partners to exchange knowledge and experiences with experts in the food and agriculture field
On the 11th and 12th of July, the European Meeting “Food For Thought” took place in Milan, in the framework of the EU Food Security HUB project. It allowed the partner organizations to exchange ideas between them and with experts in the food and agriculture field about the training needs of the people working in these areas, social awareness, access to funding, or ensuring food security’s recognition on local governments, stakeholders and networks agendas, among other topics.
The meeting started the first day with some ice-breaking questions.
After that, the participants were divided into three itineraries, in which different challenges were faced.
Training needs and methods
In the first itinerary, “Training needs and methods in food security/sovereignty projects”, a comprehensive discussion took place regarding the beneficiaries of the training and the significance of vulnerability or having a vulnerable condition. The group addressed issues related to stigmatization of the beneficiaries, along with strategies for building trust among training participants. Moreover, the sustainability of the training program emerged as a crucial focal point, emphasizing the need to ensure that beneficiaries successfully complete their training journey.
Strengthening food security/sovereignty initiatives
In the second itinerary “How to strengthen our food security/sovereignty initiatives“, challenges were addressed around several axes: how to improve financing, social awareness and local government.
Regarding financing, the organisations pointed to the bureaucratic burden of obtaining grants, the legal framework that often determines the initiatives, and in some cases political instability. The importance of consolidating the social market by introducing new strategies, such as the creation of platforms that bring together small initiatives, was also highlighted. In relation to public awareness, ideas emerged such as the promotion of social markets and local dissemination agents such as artists. Finally, a discussion about involving local governments in specific initiatives took place, stressing the need for training local representatives and support with impact assessment.
New Food Security Agenda
In the third itinerary, titled “Advancing a New Food Security Agenda in Our Cities and Europe” several critical challenges took center stage.
Ensuring food security’s recognition on local council agendas, promoting awareness about its holistic benefits (sustainability, community development, health and wellbeing), fostering collaboration among local stakeholders and networks for change, exploring local governments’ facilitation role in this collaboration, and establishing a pan-European network for driving change were some of the challenges. This itinerary aimed to tackle these pressing issues with a comprehensive and collaborative approach, seeking to enhance food security both locally and continentally.
Continuing with the afternoon agenda, the first itinerary focused on identifying key challenges and proposing solutions to face them. The session’s highlight was the presentation of the EU Food Security HUB Competence Framework.
During the Coffee chat and working session, participants from the other itineraries actively engaged. It was an excellent platform for each association to share their good practices.
Ciauli Coop, Espigoladors, Cosmonauti A.P.S., Projecte Alimenta and La Botiga, among others, shared how food security and agricultural initiatives help to boost personal autonomy and social empowerment. Also, Bugday Dinergi presented their project aimed at creating awareness of ecological life in individuals and society. Other organizations, like EkoRozwoju Foundation and Anadolu Meraları, shared their experiences dealing with two major events like Covid-19 pandemic and the earthquake in Turkey in February 2023. EkoRozwoju Fdt explained how the pandemic unexpectedly stimulated a significant food system transformation and engaged the local community to increase access to local food in Poland. Anadolu Meraları shared their strategies based on regenerative agriculture to cope with the consequences of the earthquake in Turkey.
In the second part of the morning, different profiles talked about the role of Local government in Food Security and sovereignty. We hosted a Round Table with Sonia Fuertes, the Social Action Commissioner at the Barcelona City Council and other very relevant profiles from Municipalities and cities: Laia Ortiz, the Director of Social Action at the El Prat de Llobregat City Council; Monica Palazzo, the Administrative Officer at the Palermo Municipality and Claudia Magaña, a Food researcher at the Barcelona University.
The second day concluded with a brief overview of the itineraries’ work and congratulations and appreciation for the valuable experience and knowledge exchange that had taken place over the two days.