Government agencies in Twente Region commit to increase the consumption of locally produced food. The “Twente Canteen” initiative is an important step in this direction.

Food imports in European cities have increased steadily for decades. As a result the proportion of the imported fruits, vegetables and other ingredients highly exceeds the consumption of locally produced food. How can cities reduce the steps in the food supply chain by supporting selling and consumption of locally produced food?

The Municipality of Almelo in Twente Region has placed this question high on its political agenda. Public administration and local producers should join efforts to achieve a common goal: provision of more local food in the canteens of governmental institutions, such as municipalities, hospitals, schools and universities. From now on, 25% of the food served in the public canteens in the Municipality should be produced in the Region Twente.

The initiative of Almelo has attracted further municipalities and entrepreneurs from the Region, who want to follow the good example. They all aim to stimulate the local economy and to raise awareness among citizens about healthy and sustainable food consumption. The joint project “Twente Canteen” will help them to investigate the potentials. Green Knowledge Portal together with Twentse Streekproducten Organisatie and Stichting de Proeftuinen coordinate the project and investigate the opportunities to scale it up to other parts of the Region. Experiences from other RUMORE partner regions enrich the process.

Is it all that simple? The answer is no. The industry and therefore the “Twente Canteen” project face various challenges. While the local producers are willing and enthusiastic to meet the demand for local food, the effective organisation of the logistics is still a big challenge. One thing is clear: local producers should have a leading role in the project and should hold a grip on the market. Presently, producers struggle to cover their production costs and make profit from their work, which is the big problem and failure of the current system. Supporting the selling and consumption of locally produced food, e.g. in canteens, municipalities will increase the demand for the products of local producers. This will stimulate the local economy especially in rural territories, where agriculture is still the dominating economic sector.

Further information about the project “Twente Canteen” could be found here.