Inclusive public school food procurement to improve schoolchildren nutrition
Public School Food Procurement can be an effective tool for improving the nutrition of schoolchildren and to integrate local producers into school food programmes. A key aspect of FAO’s strategy in this context is to link local farmers with school food and nutrition programmes to stimulate the local economy and enhance community involvement, allowing for the achievement of broader and long-term development gains. In this way, school food procurement strengthens the nexus among nutrition, agriculture and social protection and constitutes an important policy instrument that can supplement the educational and food security benefits of public school food programmes.
Nevertheless, despite the enormous potential local school food procurement offers, its implementation is not a simple process. To ensure that the procured school food meets the necessary quality standards and is provided to schoolchildren in adequate amounts, technical guidance for actors involved is necessary together with an enabling regulatory and institutional environment. Equal care is needed to make sure that the procurement truly benefits local smallholder producers, taking into consideration the realities of the local agricultural value chains.
The FAO project “Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia”, funded by the Russian Federation, has implemented three different pilots in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan aimed at integrating local production into school feeding programmes and providing nutrition education to enhance nutrition-sensitive school food systems. By providing an evidence base on the effectiveness of an integrated approach to development, these pilots help shape key policy and programming processes in the project countries and beyond.
To increase awareness and learn more about the situation of public school food procurement and its linkages with food security and nutrition programmes in the Europe and Central Asia region, the project is launching this online discussion together with FAOs specialists from the Food and Nutrition Division and the Development Law Service.
The aim of this discussion is to exchange experiences and lessons learned among experts of the region, as well as to identify good practices, challenges and barriers to an effective public school food procurement. The input received will help develop guidance for practitioners, policymakers, legislators, and development partners for improving policy and legal frameworks and enhancing operational processes.
We would like to suggest structuring this discussion around the following guiding questions. Please feel free to answer only those you find most interesting and you have the most experience in.
Models of public school food procurement and the relevant legislation
- What supportive policies and regulatory instruments are necessary to attract and integrate local producers and agribusinesses in the public procurement process for school food on a sustainable, long-term basis? What kind of procurement model for school food does your country employ?
- At which institutional level should decisions be taken on the public procurement of school food (e.g. central government, regional government, local government, or directly by the schools)? Please share your country example.
- What barriers and obstacles exist in the legislation, practices and policies for public procurement of school food and, in particular, for the procurement from local and smallholder producers in your countries? How have these obstacles been removed in your country?
Actors needed to be involved in public school food procurement and their roles
- What actor should take the lead for an efficient public school food procurement? What should be the roles of other actors?
- What should the role of parent committees in the school-food procurement process be? How are parents involved in the school-food procurement processes in your country?
- What instruments are necessary to improve the integration of specific groups such as producer associations, women's associations, cooperatives, etc. in the procurement of school food? Please share your country example.
Contribution of public school food procurement to ensuring nutritious and safe school food
- Should the composition of the school food basket and food safety standards be an integral part of the legal public school food procurement framework? Please provide an example on how these aspects are regulated in your country.
Securing funding for a suitable implementation of public school food procurement
- To what extend should school food programmes rely exclusively on public funds? What should be the roles of other actors in ensuring sustainable financing?
- What measures are needed to cover possible funding gaps?
We believe that this topic could of interest to many policymakers and practitioners already involved in or looking at the benefits of the school food and nutrition sector in the Europe and Central Asia region. We welcome you to share your views on both good experiences and failures, or to raise questions, which are not yet covered here but that you deem important for further discussion.
Please feel free to share this invitation with your professional networks that would support the broadest possible participation.
Policy and Legal Specialist on Sustainable Public Procurement
FAO Food and Nutrition Division
Legal Consultant for the Development Law Service
FAO Legal Office
National Legal Consultant
This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.