Food policy in the Corona-crisis: share your best ideas

21.04.20 | News

The initiative by Restauranglabbet “Call for Action” is transforming food that might otherwise be wasted into lunch-boxes for health professionals and risk groups.

Empty supermarket shelves. Missing seasonal workers in the fields. Closed restaurants and cafés. These are some of the tell-tale signs of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Nordic region, if not the world. At the same time, we also see more people cultivating gardens and chefs using food surplus food from their empty restaurants to make lunch for health care workers. The Nordic Food Policy Lab has started a range of conversations to inspire sustainable food policy development in the wake of the Corona crisis.

The unprecedented public health and economic crisis that COVID-19 represents demands responses from all sectors of society. The international food policy community is now scrambling to cope in this time of uncertainty.

The pandemic poses great challenges. At the same time, the crisis also provides an opportunity to reinvent food policy, reorient the priorities of the food system, and highlight blind-spots. The Nordic Food Policy Lab, a flagship project under the Nordic Prime Minister's Initiative "Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges", is now kicking off a series of reflections from around the world in their LinkedIn community. In addition to the series, a think piece on the impacts of the crisis on Nordic food systems is also being developed.

Share your ideas on how we can build back better

In 2019, the Nordic Food Policy Lab launched a LinkedIn group called "The Community for Future Food Policies". The online community connects and share ideas for how policy can power desirable food futures. Over the course of the next few weeks, the community will serve as a space for kickstarting new conversations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the topics to be covered are:

  • Foresight methods and their relevance for food policymaking in times of crises
  • The probable food system impacts of COVID-19 as well as mitigation action in the short and long term
  • The rapid transformation of the gastronomy sector: new business models during crises
  • Building better food systems together through online engagement: new ways of working with co-creation processes

One of the contributors, Saher Hasnain from Foresight4Food at the University of Oxford, says: "The COVID-19 crises situation serves to highlight the role of effective policy-making and governance systems. The challenge is now to anticipate, imagine, and govern for a resilient, sustainable, healthy, and equitable food system and we are looking forward to exploring how this can best be done with the Community for Future Food Policies."

Signals of change in the Nordic food system

An upcoming think piece will provide an overview of the food-related actions that the Nordic countries are taking in response to the crisis. The piece will highlight areas of vulnerability in the Nordic food system and investigate what this may mean for building future food system resilience.

An internationally recognised example is the initiative by the Stockholm-based Restauranglabbet called "CALL FOR ACTION". Restauranglabbet is transforming food that might otherwise be wasted into lunchboxes for health professionals and risk groups who are self-isolating at home. One of the founders, Anders Breitholtz, a Material Designer and Circular Economy Strategist, says:

"We are really happy to see that Call for Action has inspired so many others. We are now discussing what's needed to set up similar initiatives with industry colleagues in Milan, Barcelona and Paris. We are looking forward to exchanging ideas with others on how to organise and do things differently in times of crisis."

Join the conversation!

The Community for Future Food policies LinkedIn group is a place for trading  ideas and developing a shared vision for how policy can power a desirable food future. Are you crafting ambitious procurement policies? Do you work on local or national strategies on food waste, dietary guidelines or gastronomy? Or maybe you represent a consumer awareness organisation or a food start-up? If you’re interested in the novel policies and initiatives that are shaking up the food sustainability conversation, we urge you to join the conversation and contribute!