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How public food can help build a green recovery

Food for Life Scotland webinar examines the role of public food in the green recovery

Food for Life Scotland is hosting Scottish local authority decision makers and influencers for a webinar on Tuesday 23 March with international and local speakers offering inspiring insight on public food.

Public food is not merely calories on a plate, but a powerful tool for social, environmental and economic change. As Scotland plans for a green recovery, food provides huge potential for positive change. Public procurement of sustainable and local food is one of the most effective mechanisms at our disposal to drive transformation in food production and supply, and to prioritise the wider community wealth building agenda.

Scottish local authority decision makers, and all those with an interest in public food, are invited to join Food for Life Scotland to hear first-hand how public food is already making positive change internationally and right here in Scotland.

Canadian chef, writer and activist Joshna Maharaj will speak about the importance of institutional food culture and the transformative power of serving good food in the public sector. Joshna believes strongly in the power of chefs and social gastronomy to bring values of hospitality, sustainability, and social justice to the table. Recently, Joshna has been working with hospitals and universities in Toronto to build new models for institutional food procurement, production and service. Her first book, Take Back the Tray (May 2020), captures the lessons and experience from her work to create a shareable blueprint for changing institutional food systems around the globe.

Joshna says: “Access to wholesome, affordable, delicious food is a basic human right. We need to be brave enough to acknowledge this, and then rebuild our food systems accordingly.”

Betina Bergmann Madsen is Chief Procurement Officer in the City of Copenhagen and a specialist in the procurement of sustainable and organic food for the city’s 900 kitchens. Betina will speak about how Copenhagen has driven change in their public meals by upskilling catering staff, producing more freshly prepared meals and increasing sourcing of organic produce. Since 2001, Copenhagen has aimed for 90 percent of all public food served in the city to be organic. Most kitchens have reached or even exceeded that goal. As a procurement specialist, Betina strives to continually improve the steady supply of seasonal and high-quality ingredients into public kitchens.

Betina says: “Public procurement of good food is a powerful tool for social change and can be used by local governments and municipalities to tackle climate change and to help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Copenhagen has utilised the power of public procurement to support its policy priorities by setting organic targets and embedding the Sustainable Development Goals within our tenders”.

Dr Audrey Sutton is Executive Director of Communities and Education at North Ayrshire Council. Audrey will speak about the Council’s commitment to community wealth building and how this works in practice for food procurement. Audrey’s academic and professional background spans education and community planning and services, with national roles including presidency of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland. She has a particular interest in collaborating for improvement, whole systems approaches, local governance, placemaking and radical kindness.

Audrey says: “The power of food to foster collaboration, wellbeing and economic relationships is a key strand of Community Wealth Building in North Ayrshire, and the potential to develop this is emerging at every stage of our journey.”

Food for Life Scotland is a Soil Association Scotland programme, funded by the Scottish Government. The programme supports local authorities to achieve the Food for Life Served Here award, which helps schools across Scotland to put more fresh, locally sourced and sustainable food on the table.

Sarah Duley, Head of Food at Food for Life Scotland, says: "We're delighted to be hosting these inspiring speakers to share their expertise and to shine a spotlight on the power and potential of public food. The food we serve in public sector settings can drive positive change and provide solutions to the challenges we face in Scotland. These include addressing the climate change emergency, safeguarding public and planetary health, and generating economic resilience. This has never been more important than as we head out of the pandemic."

Food for Life Scotland invites local authority decision makers and influencers with an interest in public food to join this free webinar The Power of Public Food: How the public plate can help build a green recovery on Tuesday 23 March 2021 at 6pm.

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