School Food Nutrition can be ensured by promoting from farm to school initiatives.
Tirana, 20 June 2018 – Today in a round table organized at the premises of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were presented the preliminary findings of “Feasibility study for the engagement of local producers in the supply and provision of procurement of foods for selected primary schools in Albania“. This study was conducted during September 2017 to June 2018 in the framework of the School Food Nutrition Programme that FAO has started two years ago, working together with MARD in the last two years to develop a series of studies and implement the programme at national level. The round table gathered policmakers, bussines operators and other stakeholders such as civil society and academia. The study findings are comprehensive and target legal and institutional changes for enabling various actors to impelment pilot schemes for farm to school programs.
The evidences suggest best schemes provided to Municipalities based on structured food chains where traders and catering service providers are the pivot actors for regulating food flows. Prior to the application of the pilot schemes the authors urge for the implementation of national guidelines for school catering where minimal criteria for school infrastructure, service prorcurement and service standards are defined. The main actors should be involved in an integrated programme for training and education on nutrition and food (students, teachers, VC actors). Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Education Sport and Youth should prepare a joint master plan, based on Ministries Action Plan to prepare the instutional basis for the farm to school schemes. Legal requirements on procurement (criteria per service providers, discriminatory rules and contracting time as well as other terms) and institutional responsibilities should be revised in order to make these schemes feasible and effective. Municipalities should be trained and empowered for attempting pilot schemes. Priority should be given to municipality schools which are most invested, with catering access and strong vicinity to food operator. Learning tools for pupils and training modules for farmers have to be prepared on regards to education nutrition and safety and health.
The persistence of food poverty in Albania is an important effect of social exclusion of marginal communities in the most underdeveloped areas of the country. Children are the most affected group of population, since a shortage of nutrition elements negatively affects for their future development in terms of physical and psychological development of children. Therefore policy intervention in introducing incentives for better food consumption of children in households and schools are key elements in improving their nutrition.
FAO recognizes school children as a priority for nutrition interventions and views the school as an ideal setting for teaching basic skills in food, nutrition and health. Promoting nutrition through schools can create benefits that extend beyond the classroom and playground to improve the health and nutritional well-being of households and communities.
“This programme comes in line with the principle of Leave No One Behind in the framework of the national efforts to achieve the Agenda2030 and work done for ZeroHunger and Reduced Inequalities.” said Blerina Karagjozi, FAO communication specialist in the opening remarks.
Based on other countries experiences, applying farm to school schemes has contributed to improve incomes and food security for local farm households when locally produced food are supplied to the school. In this framework - an FAO contracted think tank - Development Solutions Associates led a study with the aim to assess the indicative supply capacities of main food products to ensure local procurement for primary schools, evaluate the capacities of local actors and to estimate the potentials for the application of a farm to school program at municipality level.
The participants emphasized the importance of farm to school schemes and suggested awareness actions for parents, media and civil society to be taken prior to the application of the schemes. The participants agreed the important role of institutional coordination and cooperation between central government institutions and municipalities for achieving optimal results on the implementation of these schemes.
The final results of the study will be made public soon through an electronic publication. These results are part of the extensive research and communication actions taken by FAO during 2018 for fostering the attempts to application of farm to school schemes in Albania.