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Food Security; Community Kitchens and Local Economies
Hosts: The National Council for Food Security; the Center for Food Security; Beer Sova; AJEEC-NISPED; Kol Ha-Isha; Yedid – The Association for Community Empowerment; Shatil

Prof. Dov Chernichovski, Chairman of the National Council for Food Security opened the session. 


Ela Eyal Bar David, the Office Vice – Director for Employment, the Ministry of Economics Sharon Bloch, Director of Professional Training, Southern District, the Ministry of Economics


Dr. Roberta Soninno, Cardiff University, the United Kingdom, "Rethinking Food Security: Local Policy Actions." 
Ken Hecht, Advisor to the National Council for Food Security, "Long Term Income Generation Solutions, the American Experience and its Potential Implementation in Israel""

Food security is the condition where one has ongoing access to food in an amount sufficient to allow a healthy and active life. A recent study published by Israel's National Insurance Institute indicates that one of every five people living in Israel suffers from food insecurity. In recent years, it has gradually become evident that food distribution is not a sufficient solution for the problem of food. More and more voices are calling for a real and comprehensive solution which will economically empower underprivileged groups who are unable to acquire food independently, while lowering living costs. The government is currently undertaking steps that will increase funding to both the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Education's Nourishment Program in order to provide a solution for the figures presented in the study. This presents an opportunity to consider long term and comprehensive solutions that will leverage the increase in resources to develop local infrastructures and solutions. This session will focus on the relationship between food security and economic empowerment and development by focusing on initiatives such as community kitchens and by encouraging public nourishment programs to employ local procurement practices. 

Prof. Dov Chernichovski, Chairman of the National Council for Food Security, the Ministry of Welfare Legislation to establish the National Council for Food Security is relatively new and was enacted in 2011

The Council's activities include:
  • Policy planning in the field of food security. 
  • Enforcement and supervision 
  • Evaluating models promoting food security 
Noted that 200 – 270 million NIS will be invested in food security, also discussed the importance of working with civil society organizations to find a solution, emphasized the importance of interaction between households and the government and the renewed importance of incorporating food security in local policy actions.

Dr. Roberta Soninno, the New Geography of Food Security 

This is not a one-time crisis that will involve specific intervention, there is a real ecological crisis impacting the food industry. The number of people who are over weight is equal to the number of people who suffer from malnutrition – these are two sides of the same coin – who should we use land, what should we grow and for whom – should we grow sugarcane to produce candy or cattle to produce beef - is this the best way we can use land considering that it is a limited resource?

What we grow is important and so is the way we divide land between different crops. Diabetes is now considered an epidemic. The food crisis is more serious in urban centers, in rural areas people are closer to agricultural areas and at times take part in the process themselves. So when there is a crisis urban residents are those that are hit hardest. 

In the U.S. there are "food deserts", in New York for example one can travel miles without finding a single store that sells healthy or nutritious food like fruits or vegetables. The international policy adopted over the past hundred years has failed, many products were subsidized but not fruit or vegetables. Food must be accessible but people must be able to afford nutritious food.

Municipal and Local Governments are Important Actors in the Field of Food Policy 

Local infrastructure is not sufficient to ensure food security but they can improve the situation on a local scale. Networks that allow for the dissemination of information and increase cooperation exist. Municipal and local councils are not responsible for food but they are responsible for health so they have an interest in investing in the field, and limiting the "food deserts". 
In some cities one may find a "Food Policy Council” e.g. Bristol in the UK. Representatives of all fields are present on these councils as almost every field impacts the situation : housing, water, food systems, etc. One of the strategies of municipal food policy is to save abandoned land and create communal food. People who work together in their gardens can make a positive influence on their health, environment, communities etc.

Local Policy Actions – Three Main Tools: 
  1. Development of infrastructure – bringing together manufacturers (crop growers) and consumers 
  2. Public procurement strategies – access to high quality and nutritious food. 
  3. Renewed thinking of planning systems 
The government is making a sincere effort to create models for focused action that will improve nutrition. Civil Society is playing a leading role in this regard. We are collaborating with policymakers and we feel a new dynamic regarding obesity and malnutrition is has been set in motion.

Ken Hecht, Advisor to the National Council for Food Security 

Food insecurity (insufficient calories), gaining weight. Healthy and unhealthy food. That is where LSED is relevant. This presents an opportunity for economic development, building cooperation and creating coalitions to address this issue. In the United States 15% of the population suffers from malnutrition, in Israel 19-20%. In the U.S. 66% of the population and about 33% of children are obese. It is difficult to reach proper weight levels if children are obese. The good news is that in the U.S. we are beginning to see an improvement in the situation and have noticed a drop in obesity rates recently, especially amongst children. The number are always a little behind reality. Obesity is prevalent in among underprivileged groups, where efficient programs exist today. Israel has begun to suffer from the problem but hasn't found its way out yet, this requires adoption of proper policies. We can learn from the American experience and implement them here. 

It is important to: 
  1. Document the problem – gather data, we need figures on obesity and malnutrition.
  2. Increase media coverage of the issue. For years the government ignored the problem, people did not understand its gravity. During the holidays there would be food distribution programs, but not during the rest of the year. 
  3. High dependence rates – people are dependant on the authorities for information etc.  
  4. There are signs of public action. In the U.S. there is no written policy addressing the issue. It is left on the local level on purpose.  
  5. First off we must help more susceptible groups – children, the elderly, sick people 
  6. Children – there is a limited nutrition program that includes breakfast, and at times dinner 
  7. There is also infrastructure that cares for small children, babies, and even some pregnant and breastfeeding women. 
  8. Make people take action. 
  9. Collaboration – the private sector must also join hands and take action.
Erez Nagauker, Be'er Sova 

Erez is the Director of Be'er Sova, an NGO established in 1999 by volunteers to provide hot meals to the needy. 
They established a communal restaurant in an underprivileged neighborhood that serves primarily elderly people (approximately 70 a day). In the last year they have begun considering the role that Be'er Sova can play in initiating social change. They had begun noticed a second generation of families who needed free mails and thus decided that if they could remove even one family from their customer list it would be a real achievement. They began focusing on people and not on hunger. They redefined their strategies to generate change, hired a dietician and prepared a healthier menu to create long term change in eating habits. This led to the idea of establishing a community kitchen, which provides a source of income for women who had originally been provided food packages and represents a shift from dependence to independence. With Shatil assistance they further expanded the project and began incorporating sustainable food principles so that their income would go back to the community and generate change for the better. 

Jadeer Hanni, AJEEC-NISPED 
One of the organization's goals was to establish a business that would produce food for schools. Muhammed Al-Nabari, Hura's Mayor was the only one to respond. The original idea was to establish a business providing work for women who had difficulties finding employment. Initial difficulties were procedural, permits etc. Raised money from philanthropists and foreign foundations. Have yet to receive any government funding. The mayor emphasized the importance of giving precedence to local suppliers. 
This required many businesses to register with the tax authorities and establish companies (social businesses) All women working in the catering business are paid a bonus annually per revenue. This allowed the women to invest time in preparing a training program that Jadeer helped them prepare. As of September they are providing 6,700 meals. The food they prepare is healthy and nourishing, its impact exceeds local schools where it is served as the children's mothers were also provided guidebooks emphasizing the importance of eating healthy. The goal is to transfer management of the business to the women in the future. The MOH has expressed interest in launching similar initiatives in additional regions. 

The Reut Association, A Pluralist School in Jerusalem; Kol HaIsha 
Runs a soup kitchen in a school in Jerusalem. The women who are part of the project, known as "Women Cooking Up a Business" work one day a week . They have prior cooking skills but also take part in an entrepreneurship program provided by Kol HaIsha and Mati. Following a year's work they help them open a small business. Additionally, they discuss the importance of a healthy diet and work on greening the school e.g. by planting a garden. Children can participate. They also provide catering services to the municipality and private events. Also want to offer educational programs to help children reach full matriculation.

The Session was held as part of the Main Event of the Negev Local Sustainable Economic Development ENPI-CBCMED Congress – December 2013.

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