BSR Food Coalition
BSR Food Coalition
Various district municipalities across the Baltics have put food and sustainability as a theme in their long term regional strategic plans. Essential involvement, collaboration and having a common goal from municipalities are key to advancing food systems' sustainability and to tackle the challenges that come with it. Sustainable school meals as catalysts for food system change is a lever to enable large-scale (integrated) food sustainability transitions.
A Farm to School Mission-Oriented Framework that is aimed at fostering the development of a community of practice, to support replication, adaptation and expansion of successful Farm to School programme models. The framework is being developed for use by local and regional municipalities, programme practitioners, policy-makers and development partners, as well as civil society and community-based organisations, and the private sector too.
What is Farm to School?
Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with local, healthy food and food producers by changing food purchasing and educational activities at schools and preschools. Farm to school activities and policies are unique to location, and can be defined in a multitude of ways. For the purposes of this evaluation framework, the core elements of farm to school activities are:
- Procurement of local and regional food products;
- Gardening, based at schools and preschools; and
- Education, food and farm related.
A small number of innovative approaches are being tested and implemented in Klaipeda-, Kurzeme-, Latgale-, Tartu- and Vorumaa region but the resulting outcomes remain to be leveraged for impact at scale in line with the targets of Agenda 2030 and the European Farm to Fork strategy.
Based on survey results of the five regions that were conducted in autumn 2022 by Lead Partner Klaipeda University, building a Farm to School system requires more communication, direct school administration contacts with local farmers, and greater involvement of municipalities in legislative amendments, as well as help in creating shorter food supply chains.
Thanks to the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme and its team, by believing in our BSR Food Coalition project, we have managed to take Farm to School from conversations to piloting. The aim is to implement co-planned Farm to School test beds (pilots) in each project partner's region: Klaipeda, Kurzeme, Latgale, Tartu and Vorumaa. Each partner with the flexibility to adapt to own think-out-of-the-box ideas and local context, but with solutions adapted to today’s climate challenges and to the following entry points:
- Smallholder farmers are very important to food security, and increasing agricultural productivity is closely linked to reducing rural poverty and hunger. Yet, food continues to be lost and wasted, instead of reaching school meals.
- Organic food is always part of the sustainable school food and the demand for it is increasing in the Baltic States, but the supply is weak and unorganised.
- To bring Farm to Fork into school meals, and to provide market access to smallholder farmers.
This is an ongoing piloting until May 2024. The result is planned to be disseminated shortly after.
Watch our first out of three “progress made so far” sessions here, and if you've missed it, listen to the first episode of our Walk the School Food Talk.
This October saw the launch in Estonia of the ‘Farm-to-School’ project, which in a nutshell is about offering school kids meals made with ingredients sourced locally. The brainchild of the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM), the project aims to improve kids’ health and promote small producers.
Launched simultaneously in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the project kicked off with an event explaining how to build up cooperation between schools and small producers so that school lunches are made with locally sourced ingredients. Although the project has only been running for a month, ‘Farm-to-School’ project manager and Sustainable Gastro founder and head of development Jennifer Avci says it has already proved a success in Estonia. “Take Tartu and Võru counties, where some of the school lunches being offered to kids have already gone organic,” she says. “That’s a good starting point for the vision behind the whole project, to take it to a level where the government can devise support measures for it for local governments.”
Read more: Pie in the sky or recipe for success?
Project manager, Communication manager
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More cooperation towards healthy and high quality lifeAn abstract book in Lithuanian language of the international scientific conference “Safe, Sustainable, and Innovative Environment Towards Healthy and High-Quality Life” held in March 2023 at Klaipeda University. One part of the program was dedicated only to the BSR Food Coalition project (page 14) and the StratKIT+ project (page 12).||
Proceedings of the 14th International Scientific and Practical ConferenceAn abstract from a Klaipeda region perspective on cooperation between farmers and educational institutions, school food chains and implementation of farm to school programmes. Published in the online journal Rezekne Academy of Technologies in Latvia.||
Are farmers interested in providing services and products to educational institutions?The article analyses the prospects for small and medium-size farms relating to the development of the ‘From Farm to School’ model in the Klaipeda region (page 43-62). The article is published in the Social Science e-journal of Klaipeda University.||
Study on the current school food system in the five partner regions (Klaipeda, Kurzeme, Latgale, Tartu and Vorumaa)