Schools, universities, hospitals… cities’ new allies to change the food system

03 May 2019

Households are not the only food consumers in the cities. Institutions such as hospitals, schools, universities, corporate cafeterias, or even prisons, are other big players in the food system. How can a shift in their practices help a transition to a more sustainable future? And what can cities do to foster their initiatives? Urban Food Futures new blog analyses the findings from a new book 'Institutions as Conscious Food Consumers' which presents an overview of action in Northern America.

  • Institutions can impact both the food chain (upstream) and consumers (downstream)
  • Given the volume they represent, any changes institutions make to their food practices will lead to changes in the food system
  • Institutions face very specific challenges: they need to ensure large volumes and consistent supply of processed or semi-processed food.

The book finds that some institutions have started pooling their purchasing power together. Food-aware institutions are therefore potential allies for local authorities in new alliances in order to challenge the existing power of large agribusinesses and retailers.

Some actions undertaken have included:

  • Adding new local, organic and fairly sourced products into their services,
  • Shifting to more sustainable menus.
  • Supporting intermediate sized companies and increasing supply chain transparency.

Finally, specific challenges these institutions face are highlighted and turned into levers that local authorities and community groups can act upon such as facilitating connections between institutions and food producers and other supply chain entities to support the ongoing growth of local and sustainable markets.

Read Urban Food Future's blog

Contacts

Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities
lballin@soilassociation.org

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association
www.soilassociation.org


Food Matters
www.foodmatters.org


Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation www.esmeefairbairn.org.uk 

 
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