How might we increase accessibility to food for all and fight malnutrition? Let’s implement sustainable food cycles from producer to consumers reducing food waste!
The economic crisis, tax system and a heavy decrease in benefit claims, together with the increasing humanitarian crisis, have resulted in a growing number of people who are in need of food facilitation.
90% of the poor people in the centre of Athens depend on food banks and soup kitchens from solidarity movements, meaning they do not have any capacity to provide any type of food for themselves and their families. There are more than 600.000 children living at risk of poverty and social exclusion line in Greece, and this number is always increasing, as the conditions for a much needed shift in the country's economy have not changed.
At the same time, food waste hits new records in our country. Approximately, 196 kg of food per person is wasted every year in Greece, ranking the country in the 4th worst place in the EU when it comes to food waste. It is necessary that we bring balance between these two groups. It is critical to fix the whole food cycle and make it more sustainable. How can we bring more healthy and nutritious food on the table of the Greek families? How can we eliminate the extra waste of packaging? How can we make city logistics simpler or the food production more sustainable, so that there is a smaller environmental impact?
With unemployment reaching unprecedented levels and the primary sector losing its dynamic, the implications are very serious as there is increased food insecurity and lower purchase capacity from the consumers. The primary sector -one of the few growth sectors for Greece- is under capitalized and the environmental cost is with no return, affecting public health and the ecosystem – land, sea, flora and fauna.
We are looking for innovative ways that ensure balance in supply and demand in a fair way, that can bring accessible, healthy food to all the citizens, and at the same time decrease food waste while fighting food insecurity for the more vulnerable.
The location in quest is downtown Athens, and specifically the 6th City District of the Municipality of Athens, with the potential to scale the solution to other districts of the greater metropolitan Athens region.
The target group around the food cycles challenge are:
a) vulnerable groups
b) youth in rural areas: rural areas in Greece are the most affected ones by unemployment. And while the food sector can be a significant are for financial development in Greece at large, we see a constant decrease in professionals engaged with the food production sector.
c) public health: improvement of urban environment, and thus better waste management, appropriate city logistics regarding food supply and distribution in densely populated urban areas.
The City of Athens is a proud part of URBACT, a consortium of cities that openly share solutions with environmental and social urban benefits. Environmental sustainability, economic development and humanitarian support are the top priorities of our Municipality. Within this framework, decreasing the environmental footprint is one of the three strategic goals in the roadmap to 2030 and we need to start building from now. Over the past five years, one of the main objectives of the City of Athens is to provide the right infrastructure, resources and framework for professionals to develop innovative ideas that can offer better conditions for its citizens and the visitors covering all aspects of the city life. From transportation, to social services and from accessibility, to waste management, we are committed to see our city evolving into a hub for social innovation.
It is the first time that sustainable food systems as a central challenge are so high in our agenda, due to the increasing social needs of the vulnerable groups, and the long term strategy around the environment of the City of Athens.
We are looking for innovative solutions that can be adapted to the wider Athenian reality, that after a successful prototype can be expanded in more districts and be used as examples to replicate in more cities throughout Greece.
These solutions should be about the whole process of the food cycle, from production to waste, and we are interested to improve in our city. They can vary from apps, to tools or software, or can be initiatives that guarantee a better food distribution, fairness and less environmental footprint.
There have been several initiatives that have been supported by the City of Athens in the past focusing on food waste and a reduced environmental footprint, mostly on research level or through empowering organisations that are already working in that direction with networking and acceleration of bureaucratic processes from the City’s side. (a big food waste feast, feeding more than 5000 people in one day, collection of case studies through program as Up!Social and URBACT, and more).
By collaborating with the EU Social Challenges Innovation Platform we aspire to receive solutions that go into the same directions, that come with proven impact, tested models that are adaptable in our reality so as to engage citizens and reduce food waste.
The challenge complies 100% with the ethical standards of the project agreement.