The Hungarian Memorandum of Understanding on social economy and social farming was signed in Budapest in the first week of February. It followed a two-day regional roundtable: Collective Action for Green Public Catering Based on Quality Food. This event, organised by Védegylet, brought together international experts and representatives to explore the current state of Hungarian and international green public procurement and green public catering. On the first day, 4th February, the representative of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations highlighted the complexity of the issue of green public catering.
The roundtable’s success depends on all stakeholders expressing their views and insights to strengthen the relationship between countryside and city over food issues. This can provide a good basis for developing sustainable rural development policies in the region supported by all actors.
“The problems of the public catering system are intrinsically linked to the issues surrounding our food system: it does not deliver healthy food and diets for us, because it was not designed to do so in the first place.
It focuses on quantity and calories and not on quality, it is supply-driven and the prices determined by the system do not reflect externalities.
Therefore, we have a momentum to change our dietary habits and transition to sustainable and environmentally-conscious eating habits and by the help of green public catering and procurement we have a powerful tool in our hands to do so.”
Dr Florence Egal
The rest of the day, experts from the UK, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France and Hungary showcased existing international good practices and community partnerships for public catering. Examples included the French Mouans Sartoux 100% Organic Catering System, the Swedish Södertälje Municipality’s ‘Diet for a Green Planet’, the Scottish National Food and Drink Policy Program and the Italian initiative ‘Pappa Fish’.
“If we can’t get the food right for children, then really,
we need to talk a long hard look at ourselves.”
Dr Robin Gourlay
Aided by a playful workshop exercise, participants explored in detail the challenges and related opportunity areas for sustainable public catering and procurement both on an international and national level. Issues surrounding national regulatory and fiscal mechanisms, lack of competence and skilled labour, corruption, limitations of quantity and sustainably produced food supply were identified as the most pressing issues. The second day, concrete policy recommendations were developed by groups of participants in order to facilitate the work of decision-makers.
“If diet is a problem,
then diet is the solution”
Dr Florence Egal
Eight organizations signed the Memorandum of Understanding aiming to promote the social economy, address the environmental and social challenges of agriculture, rural livelihood and green public catering in Hungary. These were: Ethnic Folk College Association, Kemence Association, Hungarian Social Farm Association, Védegylet, National Chamber of Agriculture, Kislépték Association, Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta and National Strategic Research Institute.
The roundtable took place 4th-5th February at the European Youth Centre, Budapest. The meeting was part of The BOND project: Bringing Organizations & Network Development to higher levels in the Farming sector in Europe: a project funded by European Union Horizon 2020 Framework Program for Research and Innovation.