Local food at schools - Increasing local food self-sufficiency, establishment of short supply chains for healthier nutrition of children

Self-sufficiency in the Škofja Loka area is low, but the demand for locally produced food has been growing. Despite the interest, there were not enough providers and consumers, particularly public institutions. The goal of the project was to solve challenges encountered by actors with association.

The project innovatively upgrades existing practices of local food supply to elementary schools by eliminating problems and ensures smooth supply of locally produced food to schools to provide seasonal healthy food for our children. The comprehensive approach takes into account the interaction of all stakeholders in the food supply process. The project considers the interaction of all stakeholders in the supply chain, from producers – suppliers, cooking staff at schools, staff responsible for meal planning to teachers who are present when food is distributed.

It addresses challenges when providing local food for schools. Consequently, it ensures more local products and services and contributes to solving the problem of low self-sufficiency. Within the scope of the project, balanced school meals from local food products, which are economically, technologically, culinary and nutritionally suitable, were prepared and short supply chains for local school meals were established.

 

Context

The abundance of food in shopping centres has never been so great; at the same time, our dependence on food imports is on the rise and the quality of imported food is questionable. Nutritional value – access to sufficient and high-quality food – is one of the strategic objectives at the European, national and regional levels. Locally, we strive to attain this objective by increasing local food self-sufficiency and promoting short supply chains. The demand for locally produced food has grown recently, both from individual consumers as well as from major food consumers such as public institutions.

Food production in the Škofja Loka area fluctuates and quantities are not always sufficient to meet the growing demand; however, there is interest to increase the production and processing of food products.

We noticed interest in higher quality of products, but there was not sufficient knowledge. Public institutions wanted more high-quality local food, and also pointed out that quantities were insufficient, prices too high, and local production disorganised. The project attempted to achieve for school canteens to not only be food distribution units but to maintain their role and keep providing cooked seasonal food.

The local environment sent signals that in this field there was room for improvement and interest in changes. Interest was shown by both local food providers and schools which attempted to include more locally produced food on their menus. However, there were hesitations and challenges related to the actual supply, such as food distribution and delivery, sufficient quantities of food products, lack of consumption during the summer, coordination of prices, etc. These challenges had to be solved.

 

Objectives

The project's long-term goal was to increase local food self-sufficiency, i.e. to increase local production, processing and consumption of locally produced food.

The project's short-term operative goals were to prepare balanced school meals from local food products, which are economically, technologically, culinarily and nutritionally suitable, and to establish short supply chains for local school meals.

 

Activities

The most significant contribution of the “Local food at schools” project is the connection and communication between actors who are included in the supply of locally produced food to schools. In the first stage of the project, an expert group was formed, which included school food service managers, school cooks and chefs, and project partners. The group's job was to prepare a concept of local school meals by including new and redesign existing dishes by including local ingredients, design a technological plan and to estimate the costs of local school meals.

The bases for this activity are the results of the “School lunch” project which showed that it was possible to prepare balanced and affordable school meals from local food products. This also provided a solution to hesitations of schools regarding the prices of locally produced food, as it was coordinated with providers. The expert group could also highlight problems and potential problems, which could be solved if identified early. The use of available local food products and the identification of food products that could be produced locally are crucial in the preparation of local school meals.

Food products of local producers frequently do not meet the huge needs of public institutions. Therefore, the needs of elementary schools and available produced food must be harmonised, and local producers and processors must be prompted to expand their range of products. By connecting local providers, we were able to ensure larger quantities and more diverse locally produced food products. We had meetings with local food providers to encourage them to expand their range of products and provide food that was missing. The main goal was especially their connection so that together, they could provide larger quantities to meet the needs of at least smaller schools. To implement local food orders, we prepared a plan of food supply for school lunch and organised a workshop for elementary schools to prepare a public procurement with suitable criteria for the selection of high-quality food products.

The second stage of the project included more work on providing larger quantities. Expert support was available for local food providers to provide sufficient and suitable local food products ready to be accepted. In addition to training and workshops for agricultural producers and processors, individual and group field consultations were carried out. We prepared a list of consultants who gave advice to agricultural producers and processors in the field. The list was gradually supplemented in view of the needs for expertise in the local environment.

Another relevant segment when supplying schools with local food is also logistics – transport. It is important that food is suitably prepared, packed and promptly delivered. We prepared a selection of current and potential distribution channels from farmers or processors to schools. The focus was on the logistics to supply food products for local school meals devised in previous project activities for individual elementary schools.

At two workshops, the structure and factors of the prices of local crops and products, and theoretical sales prices for individual local crops and products were prepared. The goal was to determine the sales prices of food products for local school meals. The two workshops brought together providers and elementary schools so that the prices were acceptable for both.

As a test of all activities carried out at central and branch schools, pilot processes of short supply chains were implemented. Responses were collected from actors and on this basis, the process was corrected for future implementations.

To spread the knowledge of the project and options for public institutions to order locally produced food, awareness-raising activities for various target groups were also carried out. To support changes, we need to understand the reasons for them; therefore, awareness-raising activities of the advantages of locally produced food adapted to various target groups were carried out.

 

 

Results


- Economic:

The project boosted the local economy. With the project, children at elementary schools began consuming more local food, and short supply chains and plans to simplify the inclusion of locally produced food in elementary school meals were established. The promotion and workshops on the advantages of locally produced food included 676 people including pupils, parents, school staff and the general public.

The project comprehensively included all actors to attain the common goal. 11 elementary central and branch schools with 270 pupils were involved in the project, which tested the pilot implementation of school lunch with food from local providers.

Food supply for school lunch included 23 local providers or farms, while 201 local providers attended group consultations or decided on individual consultations.

The network of, and plans for, short supply chains were established through the cooperation of various stakeholders. Pilot implementation of school lunch was facilitated by communication with school staff responsible for the preparation of school lunch and providers of locally produced or processed food.

- Networking value:

The project is deemed an example of a good network at two levels. The establishment of a network of local producers on the one hand, and the establishment of a network of project partners on the other. The project contributed to the systemic establishment of a network and networking of local food producers, processors and schools as consumers of food. The systematic approach provides for a network to be set up, which will be upgraded with more products and demand on the basis of current principles.

 

The established partner network was based on the competences required for high-quality realisation of the project. The lead partner Razvojna agencija Sora d.o.o. was responsible for project management. As it is included in the business sector and cooperates with local public institutions, it was in charge of communication with schools, chefs and promotion staff. P-ino d.o.o. participated in the preparation of menus, the optimisation of the process from suppliers to consumers, communication with suppliers, the elimination of logistical problems and financial management. The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia, Kranj Institute participated in training and counselling for suppliers to increase production and processing, and ensure a suitable quality of products.

- Transferability:

According to known information, the incentive has not been replicated in the EU. However, both the concept and the implementation are suitable for application in other fields, which requires specific features of an environment to be considered.

 

Contact

Project beneficiary name/organisation:

Lead partner: Razvojna agencija Sora, d.o.o., Poljanska cesta 2, 4220 Škofja Loka

Partner 1: P-ino, inovacije in razvoj podeželja, d.o.o., Martinj Vrh 24, 4228 Železniki

Partner 2: Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia, Kranj Institute, Cesta Iva Slavca 1, 4000 Kranj

 

Contact person:

Lead partner: Mag. Jerneja Klemenčič Lotrič

Partner 1: Dr. Janez Benedičič

Partner 2: Majda Luznar

 

E-mail:

Lead partner: jerneja.lotric@ra-sora.si

Partner 1: info@p-ino.si

Partner 2: majda.luznar@kr.kgzs.si

 

Telephone: 

Lead partner: 00386 4 50 60 222

Partner 1: 00386 40 886 394

Partner 2: 000386 4 511 27 02

 

Website: 

Lead partner: www.ra-sora.si

Partner 1: www.p-ino.si

Partner 2: www.kgz-kranj.si

 

Additional info sources, links:  https://las-pogorje.si/projekti/lokalna-hrana-v-sole/

 

 

 

Photo copyright: ČZD Kmečki glas d. o. o.

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Additional Info

  • Regions: Upper Carniola
  • Fields of project: LEADER
  • Measure of RDP 2014-2020: M19 – Support for LEADER local development (CLLD – community-led local development)
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