Author of submission
Perret Anna, associated partner at REDD
Title of your example
Prév’mange: concrete local actions for improved nutrition & more
Sustainable food systems for improved nutrition
Date, location and geographic scope of your example
Préverenges (Switzerland), 5’000 inhabitants, on Lake Geneva.
This is a local example.
Main responsible entity(ies) for the implementation of your example
Municipality of Préverenges, REDD
Key objectives and implementation approach of your example
The goal of this project is to contribute to building sustainable food systems locally and globally by reinforcing the alternative food systems in Préverenges. Several objectives have been set and concrete actions are being implemented.
Strengthening the local food economy. Safeguarding the possibility to purchase nutritious non-industrial food.
Six visits of local companies have been organized for the population over a time period of one year (2017-2018). A biodynamic winegrower and winemaker, a fruit producer, the village bakery, the greenhouse of an organic vegetable producer, a village shop run by volunteers that sells local products only and a vegetable producer that uses direct sales channels. These half-day events include a commented visit of the premises, a discussion with the entrepreneur and of course a final tasting session and drinks. The idea is to show people the quality food that is grown, produced and sold locally through alternative sales channels (meaning outside of supermarkets). And that it is worth buying some food through these channels to keep the local economy alive.
Changing consumer behavior
Several actions are planned to meet this objective
- The development of teaching materials to encourage teachers to discuss the different steps of a food system with their pupils (and not only the food pyramid). And to point out the impacts of the different models on the environment, health, local economy, etc. The idea is to link the classroom discussions with activities in the school garden and also with visits in local companies. These courses should help the kids become informed consumers and lead to food choices that are good for themselves, their community and the planet.
- Changing the food choices available in the youth center and organizing a prevention evening about food. This evening will be organized in the form of a game. In teams, the teenagers will be asked to answer different questions with the help of experts. The experts are expected to help answer the questions correctly, to establish a trust relationship with the teenagers and to give their opinion on the issues that will be discussed.
- Establishing a community garden in the center of the village. A piece of public land will be made available to people that would like to reconnect with the earth. Organic vegetables and fruits will be grown collectively and shared. It is an opportunity to meet new people and to create something together.
Improving the quality of food at school
Every year during two weeks, school children receive free apples for their break. This action is accompanied by a leaflet explaining the advantages of eating apples in terms of nutrition and health. Before the project, the apples were local but nothing was known about the production method and thus the pesticide residues on the fruit. As of this year, the apples handed out to the kids are local organic apples or local apples guarantied free of pesticide residues.
Funding and technical assistance of your example
This project is financed by the municipality of Préverenges. The technical assistance is provided by REDD.
Key stakeholders involved.
The stakeholders involved are from the private and the public sector.
The stakeholders from the private sector are the local companies that participate in the visits described above and that will welcome school children in the frame of their course on sustainable food systems.
The stakeholders from the public sector are the schools and the youth center.
The coordination mechanism depends on the actions. REDD is mandated by the Municipality for the organization and leading of the visits with the local companies. REDD will also be mandated for the development of the teaching materials (theory, activities in the school garden, visits with local companies) in collaboration with the teachers. The prevention evening about food will be organized by the youth center. REDD will act as an expert. Finally, REDD helped the Municipality to find local apple producers that could provide pesticide-free apples to the schools. But it was the Municipality that ordered the apples and organized the action.
How your example addresses food security and nutrition challenges.
This example is an attempt to strengthen the alternative food systems locally and globally in order to counterbalance the dominant industrial agro-food system.
Strengthening the alternative food systems is necessary so that the agro-industry doesn’t totally eliminate other sales channels and artisan products which are important in sustainable food systems. Indeed, “the diversity of food systems and food models can promote food security, and should be recognized and supported through appropriate governance” (S. Fournier, J.-M. Touzard, 2014).
Alternative food systems often generate more nutritious food due to different processing methods and ingredients (less sugar, less fat), less intensive production methods, different varieties and short traveling distances.
In this example, alternative food systems are being supported mainly through consumer education (children, teenagers and adults). The challenge is to make sure that this education will lead to a change in consumer behavior and thus to sustainable food systems.
In order to achieve this, all local actors must work towards this same goal, be it the Municipality, the local food companies, the teachers, associations, etc. Face to face discussions between actors and consumers and hands-on education about food systems appear to be fruitful.
What are the elements needed for the practice to be institutionally, socially, economically and environmentally resilient and/or sustainable?
In order to keep the local economy strong and to operate a long-lasting change in consumer behavior several elements are needed:
- Municipality members that believe and defend the idea that alternative food systems can contribute to local and global sustainable food systems. The support of the Municipality is needed.
- Local companies/associations ready to participate in different actions and willing to discuss their work with the population. Communication is important.
- Teachers that are motivated to discuss sustainable food systems with their pupils and to work in the school garden. Hands-on learning is essential.
- A commission or external consultant to set up the project and implement the different actions in collaboration with the local actors.
The impact of your example on national policies and people’s lives. What indicators have been used to measure it?
The population of Préverenges and the local actors are very excited about the project.
The local companies are interested in the visits. It gives them the opportunity to have a real discussion with their potential clients about their work and approach. This should have a positive impact on the number of clients, their loyalty and an increase in sales (not measured in the project).
People’s lives are being impacted. Meeting the local farmer, baker or winemaker and actually talking about their challenges and visions is a life changing experience. This should lead to a change in the consumer behavior. And eventually sustainable food systems.
An online survey has been filled out by the people that took part in the visits of the local companies. The results show the high satisfaction of the participants, a willingness to buy more local products and the desire to take part in more activities related to sustainable food systems.
This pilot project in Préverenges will be replicated in other Municipalities in Switzerland. If enough Municipalities show interest and commit to working on their alternative food systems, national policies could be impacted.
Key lessons (positive and negative) that can be learned from your example and how gaps, obstacles and any other adverse conditions were addressed
Some actors felt threatened by this project.
For example, the initial contact with the person responsible for the youth center was unpleasant. She didn’t understand why we were interested in their food-related activities and wasn’t open to further discussing the issue with the teenagers. A meeting with REDD was organized to better explain the goal and objectives of the project. A strong signal was sent by the Municipality indicating that this issue should be taken seriously. Now, the youth center is progressively changing the choices of snacks and drinks available to the adolescents and is organizing a playful prevention evening about food.
The lesson that can be learned from this example, is that actors can be reluctant to change and can feel overwhelmed. It is important to carefully think about how to address the key actors and how to present the project in order to avoid an outcry.
Sources and/ or additional background material
Program of the company visits that were sent to the inhabitants (in French)
News article in the local paper about the project (in French)
REDD leaflet that explains the role that Municipalities can play in building sustainable food systems (in French)
Stephane Fournier et Jean-Marc Touzard. La complexité des systèmes alimentaires : un atout pour la sécurité alimentaire ? VertigO, volume 14 Numéro 1, mai 2014. http://journals.openedition.org/vertigo/14840