BioCanteens Transfer Network is about ensuring the distribution of sustainable school meals in participating cities as a key lever towards the development of an integrated local agri-food approach, protecting both citizens’ health and the environment. The project aims to transfer Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practice in the field of collective school catering, to other highly committed cities across Europe. Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practice is based on the daily distribution of meals that are 100% organic and mostly composed of local products, the drastic reduction of food waste thereby fully compensating the higher cost of switching to organic products, and the organisation of dedicated educational activities to raise children’s awareness about sustainable food.
Education - Food - Environment - Local Economy - Governance
Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practice is a real solution within a larger political initiative; redressing the balance of political leverage on food that has enabled European cities social and economic development for centuries until regions took over and the subsequent eruption of private companies excluded cities from this preponderant role.
The fact that Mouans Sartoux works on the topic of sustainable food reflects a sustainable integrated approach to urban policy. It responds to a range of interrelated needs with a closely integrated response: school catering, health, employment, urban planning, agriculture, education, public procurement, environment, etc.
The biocanteens – Good practice in a nutshell
Unfortunately too often throughout Europe canteens’ meals are provided by catering services managed by large companies serving low-quality food based on ready-made products from central kitchens.
This implies limited local employment, increased transportation costs with the subsequent impact on the environment, and centralized decisions. In many European cities, collective restaurants represent an important share of the power of purchase. Cities should, with their procurement policy, facilitate a healthier public food-provisioning programme and thus influence the local agriculture development positively.
The canteen’s scheme in the centre is articulated in 5 key sub-systems around:
Sustainable KITCHEN and food waste management: the shift of canteens to local and organic meals means big changes in the kitchen staff practices, for eg: training to prepare meals from scratch, cooking on demand to reduce food waste, tight coordination between kitchen staff and canteen educators watching children during meals to adjust recipes to their tastes, etc.
Healthy food EDUCATION and sustainable behaviour change: the school’s canteen is also a complete “food school” for the children and their families, including food education during meals, choices between portion sizes to get them used to finish their plate, tasting and cooking classes, gardening activities and visits to the municipal farm. Beyond canteens, a city food and health education program aims at shifting families’ habits to local and organic food.
Sustainable URBAN PLANNING and agricultural land use: increased synergies between the Agenda 21 (sustainable territorial plan), the local sustainable urban planning plans (called POS/PLU/PADD in the French urban planning system) and the local food health education plan (called PEL in the French urban planning system) resulted in more than 4 decades of careful urban planning, systematic acquisition of available land, concentration of urban development against urban sprawl and the creation of a municipal farm supplying the canteens.
Food-related LOCAL ECONOMY and job creation: beyond the municipal farm, the provision of 135 hectares of municipally owned land generated the development of local agriculture, supporting with subsidies the installation of new organic farms and a potential of 50 to 100 new jobs in the sustainable food-related local economy.
Sustainable integrated GOVERNANCE: more than 45 years of political engagement led to the establishment of consistent food territorial management and to the creation of the Centre for Sustainable Food and Education (MEAD, Maison de l’Education à l’Alimentation Durable) with 5 routes leading the city’s food and health sustainable program:
Encouraging new agricultural settlements;
Transformation and conservation of food;
Raising awareness about sustainable food;
Support for research projects;
Communication and networking.
Think Global, Act Local - Utopia come true!
Beyond the canteen scheme and territorial food governance discussed here, the city of Mouans-Sartoux has an outstanding sustainable ecosystem. It’s a “real utopia” for André Aschieri, its former Mayor, whose inspired sustainable and integrated leadership guided the city for more than 45 years of coherent and meaningful governance.
The health and food program is integrated in all dimensions of the city from social affairs (i.e. improving the quality of local food aid, offering access to family plots or promoting the city Fair Trade label) to culture (i.e. leveraging on the yearly Book Festival to invite leading world-known figures of sustainable development such as Vandana Shiva, Pierre Rahbi, Cyril Dion, etc.) or economic development (i.e. support to the creation of complete local organic food chain).
The city of Mouans-Sartoux seems to embody the motto: ‘think global, act local’. The governance is fed and inspired by its engagement at multiple levels: regional (i.e. Agribio06, regional network of organic agriculture), national (i.e. Un Plus Bio network for quality food in canteens), European (i.e. partner in URBACT AgriUrban, hosting a National URBACT Point meeting and now Lead Partner of BIOCANTEENS) and international (i.e. founding member of the Organic Food Territories Network and partner of the Organic Food System Programme of the FAO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations focusing on sustainable “agri-food” systems). Equally this engagement in networks, think tanks, and conceptual, reflective projects at higher governance levels does not stay academic or hypothetical, but rather comes together, finding concrete solutions at city level.
A Good Practice that can be improved
“It’s already a 5-star restaurant” says Alicia, 10, member of the Conseil de Ville for Youth (i.e. the children city council) and pupil at Aimé Legall Primary School in Mouans-Sartoux. However, there is still scope for improvement of Good Practice such as:
The empowerment of the kitchen staff to lead in the canteen project;
Investigating the capacity to sustain an open food sovereignty political vision within the contrasting French Riviera context;
The need to find new financing and secure the economic sustainability of the practice;
The opportunity to build synergies between the URBACT Transfer Network and the recently launched University degree on “Management of Sustainable Food Projects for Territorial Administrations” and aiming to transfer Mouans-Sartoux’s Good Practice.
Transfer of Good Practices: challenges and opportunities
School canteens are a hot topic – combining aspects such as a healthy diet, the quality of food, children’s education and sustainability. It’s also a winning political hook and BIOCANTEENS therefore has a strong potential for adhesion and political support.
An enabling context: the systemic nature of the canteens scheme suggests that transferring Good Practice is highly dependent on the city’s sustainable ecosystem: it is likely to encourage partner cities to transform more than their canteens schemes stricto sensu and start an integrated sustainable territorial project likely to affect the whole city positively.
Policy creativeness: the achievements of Good Practice require partner cities to challenge public procurement rules, bend administration laws to set up a municipally-owned food chain and cope with policy innovation.
The size issue: Mouans-Sartoux is a city of 10 000 inhabitants whereas the population of all the partner cities ranges from 26 000 to 81 000 and the transfer process will have to carefully monitor this size issue - and think about how to adapt the BIOCANTEENS practices to larger contexts.
4 decades in 2 years: Mouans-Sartoux’s efforts in the last decade, its involvement in a multitude of reflective activities with its peers and the effort made building teaching modules within a University degree are clear assets to accelerate the transfer process. Nevertheless, the core characteristics of the city’s ecosystem – land management; the evolution of staff practices; change in children’s food behaviour etc. - are also the ones that take more time to evolve, limiting what is achievable in 2 years of Transfer Network.
Different levels of transfers: 6 European cities are taking part to the BIOCANTEENS Transfer Network : Pays des Condruses in Belgium; Rosignano in Italy, Trikala in Greece, Troyan in Bulgaria, Vaslui in Romania. The main challenges for them to transfer Good Practice are:
The increase of organic food with no additional cost increase;
The quasi-elimination of food waste;
The shift of canteen’s staff practices;
The development of a balanced diet and adopting healthier food habits;
The resistance to real estate pressure, securing a provision of local agricultural land
The stimulation of the local agriculture sector and the creation of new jobs;
The increase of sustainable production and consumption; etc.
The strong systemic nature of the Good Practice is likely to bring about a more organic transfer with more or less important reinterpretation or translation of Good Practice into the local socio-cultural context. Developing a canteen’s scheme or changing an existing one, setting a municipally-owned food chain or leveraging the local agriculture potential, transforming public kitchen staff or orienting public procurement to shift practices of a catering provider, etc are all part of the package.
When asked in a somewhat challenging way if all Mouans-Sartoux’s wonderful achievement was true, or if it was mostly storytelling, Pierre Aschieri, the current Mayor of the city answered: “it’s more of a step-by-step approach where we learn by doing and progressively adjust our trajectory to arrive where we are now”.
This philosophy is certainly a good guide for the transfer cities to find their own pathway within the URBACT Transfer process!
The SmartImpact final output was launched at the Everything is Connected event in Manchester in March 2018. The website was launched to showcase its theme papers and case studies to help cities understand the components needed to become a smartcity. We hope this will help cities on their smart city journey in the future.
Every Thing Is Connected - The Road to becoming a smart city: 20th - 22nd March 2018
The SmartImpact network held its final event in Manchester on the 20th March 2018 as part of ‘Everything is Connected’, a 3 day smart city showcase for smart and innovative work in Manchester. The event was held at The Bright Building, a new and innovative space from Manchester Science Partnerships. The SmartImpact final output was unveiled; a web resource to help cities on their smart city journey www.smartimpact-project.eu. The event opened with key note speeches including a welcome form Cllr Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment and Skills at Manchester City Council. This was followed by Luci Glenday, CEO of T7 Tech who talked about how datasets and data platforms can support social care to analyse and identify triggers for well-being decline in a patient. She also highlights the importance of innovation ecosystems in the city. The data theme was continued by the SmartImpact Lead Expert, Alanus von Radecki from the Fraunhofer Institute, who focused on at data governance and its value in a smart city. Alanus drew on the excellent Smart Society Data Charter Eindhoven case study to illustrate his points: www.smartimpact-project.eu Delegates also took part in series of workshops linked to the SmartImpact case studies, offering an opportunity to talk directly with the city partners. The workshops were aligned to the SmartImpact themes, drawing on the 5 theme papers offering an insight into the lessons learned by the SmartImpact Network.
The five themes were:
Organisational Development – how municipalities can develop new structures and processes to support the smart city.
Finance & Procurement – ways to finance and procure innovation and how cities can plan, support and monetise new business models to deliver innovation.
Regulations & Incentives – smart policies and regulations to support a Smart city.
Innovation Ecosystems – how a city can support its own ecosystem to provide solutions to city challenges.
Data Governance & Integration – challenges and opportunities of data use, including open data, data marketplaces, ownership and protection.
Day 2 was an opportunity to get hands on with Manchester’s innovative work linked to CityVerve (www.cityverve.org.uk) and Triangulum (www.triangulum-project.eu). This included demonstrations of cargo bikes, electric cars, visualisation workshops, a visit to the university’s energy centre, demonstrations of apps plus an opportunity to meet the CityVerve and Triangulum partners. Day 3 was hosted by Future Everything: “Trust in Invisible Agents”, a day of ideas, art, experiments and workshops exposing the unseen currents of the Internet of Things. https://futureeverything.org/events/future-sessions-trust-invisible-agents/ Over the three days, the event had attendees from municipalities, industry, knowledge sector as well as digital and SME sector. Cities from across Europe and beyond were represented. Find out more about the story of SmartImpact through our animation https://vimeo.com/260781650
Confronted with social challenges, like increasing number of elderly, disabled people, and children whose parents work abroad, the City of Vaslui (RO) started a comprehensive process of rehabilitation of six of the former power plants that were heating the city neighbourhoods. These were transformed into six day care centres right in the heart of the biggest neighbourhoods of the city, serving directly a total of 300 elderly people, 15 young students and their families, and also offering a properly equipped auditorium open for any of the 14 000 students, NGOs or other cultural associations.
The solutions offered by the good practice
Hidden among city blocks of flats, the former neighbourhood power plants that were heating the communist flats, remained one by one without their main utility, since the centralised heating system has become technically outdated, thus, most users gave up on this service and chose individual heating systems. As a consequence of this phenomenon, at a local level, from a total of 27 heating power plants, only 6 are still working. The other 21 nonfunctional buildings, besides their unaesthetic aspect, were presenting a high risk of danger for health and safety of the citizens. Vaslui Municipality sought for solutions to address the identified problems, and in this regard, in collaboration with Vaslui Local Council, started a comprehensive process of rehabilitation and destination change for these locations.
Building on the sustainable and integrated approach
As poverty increases so does the risk of concentration of urban vulnerable and marginalised groups in deprived areas, which are characterised by social segregation, stigmatisation, reduced mobility, limited access to credit, housing deprivation and not only environmental degradation but reduced public spending on its prevention. Addressing vulnerable and marginalised groups has a direct impact on local municipal budgets, due for example to intense use of enabling support services and local benefits/subsidies allocated to alleviate poverty. It is therefore no surprise that combating the related social/spatial segregation was identified by stakeholders at the city level as one of the key priorities that the Vaslui Municipality should target. The proposed strategies are contributing to the socio-economic inclusion of particular vulnerable and marginalised groups. The actions done will allow lasting and sustainable solutions for major societal challenges in the city in general through the establishment of innovative policy frameworks, action plans, pilot actions and follow up activities.
Based on a participatory approach
The growing social and economic inequalities are reflected in a reduced quality of urban life. To overcome these challenges the Municipality involved the targeted groups in participatory activities to tackle socio-economic exclusion for defining the best actions and plans to be developed. Development of the daycare centres and the activities performed within were a result of the multiple discussions had with the targeted beneficiaries. The scope was to assure a maximum level of satisfaction of the vulnerable/marginalised groups and integrate them into decision-making processes. These actions are also a result of a broad participatory process undertaken within the development of the critical documents related to sustainable urban development: "Local Development Strategy Vaslui" (2009) and "Pole Metropolitan Development Strategy 2014-2020 Vaslui" (2014). The process involved local government structures, local council and relevant local community stakeholders (NGOs and associations, businesses, public institutions, experts from various fields, ordinary citizens, vulnerable/marginalised groups). The objective was to have a participatory approach in governance and planning, as concerns the exclusion of vulnerable/marginalised groups from social life and economic opportunities, and sustainable urban development. In this way, a common participatory methodology was created which can be successfully replicated in other cities and areas.
What difference has it made?
If we are talking about the Day centre for elderly „Buna Vestire”, the Day centre for elderly „Sfântul Nicolae”, The Club for retired persons, and the „Prietenia” club, almost 300 persons benefit directly from the investments done, the offered services vary from social and leisure activities, individual and group counselling, social counselling, medical and social assistance, moral and emotional support, and catering services. The cultural centre „Alexandra Nechita”, due to its purpose to offer for free an adequate space for cultural activities, we can say that it serves all of our 14 000 school students, NGOs and the local cultural associations. The day centre for schoolchildren „Bucuria” (Happiness) offers guidance for 15 children and their families.
Why should other European cities use it?
The integration of vulnerable and marginalised groups into social life and economic activities has a huge impact on the Vaslui Municipality. It generates costs in terms of direct loss of productivity and contributions to the public purse or through side effects such as increased social tensions, probability of poor health and socio-spatial segregations. Vaslui Municipality is in a unique position in Romania to address this challenge with the new governance tools and strategies. It wants to enhance mechanisms to take decisions that are closest to most citizens. As the EU gradually moves out of the economic crisis it should be remembered that almost half of the EU's population lives in cities and that urban agglomerations are the main drivers for innovation, competitiveness and economic development across Europe. Vaslui therefore has a key role to play in creating and supporting the right conditions for innovative actions in a Romanian context that lead to more and better social and economic integration of communities at risk of exclusion.