Sustainable Public Procurement Policies

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Sustainable Public Procurement Policies the Role of School Lunch Programs in the United States and Italy
Simonato, Filippo
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (100 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( M.S.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Food and Resource Economics
Committee Chair:
Burkhardt, Robert J
Committee Members:
Brunori, Gianluca
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Agriculture ( jstor )
Farmers ( jstor )
Farms ( jstor )
Food ( jstor )
Foodways ( jstor )
Lunches ( jstor )
Nutrition ( jstor )
Obesity ( jstor )
Procurement ( jstor )
Schools ( jstor )
Food and Resource Economics -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
agriculture -- food -- italy -- policy -- school-food -- sustainability -- us
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Food and Resource Economics thesis, M.S.


The purpose of this thesis is to identify how public procurement policy, especially through schools meals programs, can contribute in re-shaping the food production and distribution system. This will be done through a comparative analysis of the policy frameworks that support school meals programs in two countries: Italy and the United States. The analysis will compare school lunch programs in Italy and US against ten criteria and draw some inferences concerning the differences and similarities of the two contexts. The analysis will focus on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and on the Farm-to-School program in the United States, and on the situation of the school dining services in Italy, as many government and agencies are intervening with the creation of policies and programs to support schools in the design of a more sustainable lunch program. Furthermore, school lunch policies are designed to address problems such as the need for obesity prevention and diet and nutrition education. School meals initiatives can also be an accessible channel for educating children about the value of agriculture and the importance of consuming fresh and healthy food. However, these policies and programs have often been limited and not well integrated with the school's curriculum. Regular classroom lessons could provide a better education regarding the connections between food, health and the state of the environment. Policy makers in the US and in Italy could give a significant contribution to this process, developing a comprehensive policy framework that aims to empowering young student into aware and responsible adults. Both Italy and US have involved in the process actors coming from a variety of sectors, such as public health, law, gastronomic and environmental, which are concerned about food quality and its nutritional value. The concerns are directed toward various elements such as degree of food processing, safety, presence of chemicals, amounts of fat and sugars, the meaning of organic, regionally-grown foods, seasonality and local traditions. In Italy, it is possible to affirm that food served in schools has a focus on local procurement. Conversely, the US federal regulations on public procurement prohibit the geographical preferences criteria for sourcing. Finally, there is a growing interest in the potential of public procurement to make a difference in the way Italy and the US produce and distribute food. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
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Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Burkhardt, Robert J.
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by Filippo Simonato.

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2 201 2 Filippo Simonato


3 To Barbara, Roberto, Gianluca an d Giovanni: my wonderful family


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The Transatlantic Dual Degree Prog ram gave me the opportunity to develop this thesis on comparative analysis of EU and US policies. I want to mention the importance of the Transatlantic Dual Degree Program which is aimed to promoting student mobility, innovation, curriculum development an d academic recognition between the EU and the US. It is jointly administered and funded by the US Department of Education and the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture Fin ally, I want to thank family and friends who gave me s upport and ideas during the last two years.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 8 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................ 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 10 CHAPT ER 1 PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY ................................ ............... 12 Local Food Supply Chains and the Role of Schools. ................................ ............. 12 Research Problem ................................ ................................ ................................ 14 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ......................... 18 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 18 T he Evolution Beyond the Conventional Agriculture ................................ .............. 20 Goals for the Agriculture of a New Global Food System ................................ ........ 21 The Role of Schools in Shaping a New Food System ................................ ............ 27 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 34 Studying Lunch Programs in the Schools of Italy and United States ...................... 34 Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 34 Developing a framework for the analysis of school lunch programs ....................... 35 Food and Health ................................ ................................ .............................. 35 Local Policy Framework ................................ ................................ .................. 37 Teaching and Learning ................................ ................................ .................... 38 The Dining Experience ................................ ................................ .................... 40 Procurement ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 42 Facilities ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 44 Finances ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 45 Waste Management ................................ ................................ ........................ 47 Professional Development ................................ ................................ .............. 49 Ma rketing and Communications ................................ ................................ ...... 50 4 FINDINGS: THE UNITED STATES ................................ ................................ ....... 53 ................................ .............. 53 Food and Health ................................ ................................ .............................. 53


6 Local Policy Framework ................................ ................................ .................. 55 Teaching and Learning ................................ ................................ .................... 57 The Dining Experience and Facilities. ................................ ............................. 57 Procurement ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 58 Finances ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 60 Waste Management ................................ ................................ ........................ 61 Professional Development ................................ ................................ .............. 62 Marketing and Comm unications ................................ ................................ ...... 64 Farm To School ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 64 Farm to School: A Growing Movement ................................ ........................... 66 Key impacts of Farm to School ................................ ................................ ....... 68 Benefits to Producers ................................ ................................ ...................... 69 5 FINDINGS: ITALY ................................ ................................ ................................ 72 ................................ ..................... 72 Food and Health ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 73 Local Policy Framework ................................ ................................ ......................... 75 Teaching and Learning ................................ ................................ .......................... 77 The Dining Experience and Facilities ................................ ................................ ..... 78 Procurement ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 79 Finances ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 81 Waste Management ................................ ................................ .............................. 82 Professional Development ................................ ................................ ..................... 83 Marketing and Communications ................................ ................................ ............ 83 6 CONCLUDING REMARKS ................................ ................................ .................... 87 Schools and Public Procurement Policies ................................ .............................. 87 Key Similarities when Comparing School Meals in Italy and United States ............ 87 Key Differences wh en Comparing School Meals in Italy and United States ........... 88 Conclusions and Recommendations ................................ ................................ ..... 89 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ .............................. 92 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ......................... 100


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Framework for the Analysis of School Lunch Program ................................ ...... 52 5 1 Average food consumption in Italy ................................ ................................ ... 86


8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Worldwide grain prod uction per capita, 1961 to 2006 ................................ ........ 30 2 2 A photographic impression of the gradual changes in two ecosystem types ...... 31 2 3 Changes in historic and projected composition of human diet and t he nutritional value, 1964 2030 ................................ ................................ .............. 32 2 4 US farmers' declining share of the con sumer food dollar, 1910 to 1997 ............ 33 3 1 Framework for the an alysis of school lunch programs ................................ ....... 51 4 1 Number of Farm to School programs in the United States ................................ 71


9 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention DoD Department of Defense EC European Commission EU European Union FAO Food and Agriculture Organization LEA Local Educational Agency NSLP National School Lu nch Program RSLG Rethinking School Lunch Guide SA Sate Agency UN United Nations UNEP United Nations Environmental Program US United States USDA United States Department of Agriculture WHO World Health Organization WIC Women, Infants and Children


10 Abstra ct of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science SUSTAINABLE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT POLICIES: THE ROLE OF SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAMS IN THE UNI TED STATES AND ITALY By Filippo Simonato May 2012 Chair: R. Jeffrey Burkhardt Major: Food and Resources Economics The purpose of this thesis is to identify how public procurement policy, especially through schools meals programs, can contribute in re shaping the food production and distribution system. This will be done through a comparative analysis of the policy frameworks that support school meals programs in two countrie s: Italy and the United States. T he anal ysis will compare school lunch programs in Italy and US against ten criteria and draw some inferences concerning the differences and similarities of the two contexts. The analysis will focus on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and on the Farm to School program in the United States, and on the situation of the school dining services in Italy, as m any government and agencies are intervening with the creation of policies and programs to support schools in the design of a more sustainable lunch program. Furthermore, school lunch policies ar e designed to address problems such as the need for obesity prevention and diet and nutrition education. School meals initiatives can also be an accessible channel for educating children about the value of agriculture and the importance of consuming fresh and healthy food.


11 However, these policies and programs have often been limited and not well better education regarding the connections between food, health and the state of the environment. Policy makers in the US a n d in Italy could give a significant contribution to this process, developing a comprehensive policy framework that aim s to empower ing young student into aware and responsible adults. Both Italy and US have involv ed in the process actors coming from a variety of sectors such as public health, law, gastronomic and environmental, which are its nutritional value. The concerns are directed toward various elements such as degree of food processing, safety, presence of chemicals amounts of fat and sugars, the meaning of organic, reg ionally grown foods, seasonality and local traditions. In Italy, it is possible to affirm that food served in schools has a focus on local procurement. Conversely, the US federal regulations on public procurement prohibit the geographical preferences crite ria for sourcing. Finally, there is a growing Italy and the US produce and distribute food.


12 CHAPTER 1 PURPOSE AND SIGNIFIC ANCE OF THE STUDY L ocal Food Supply Chains a nd the Role o f Schools. Food is a fundamental n eed of human being s. F ood can also contribute to major issues such as overweight, malnutrition, environmental damages and social turmoil Food production comprises an extraordinary array of interactions between the environment and human activities. If thes e interaction s are not properly organized, food production will result in increasingly severe social, health and environmental costs (Lang et al. 2009) The m odern industrial food system poses a serious dilemma: on one hand, it has delivered exceptional qu antity and diversity of food to millions of people; on the other hand, evidence ha s health, the environment and social structures. The purpose of this thesis is to identify how public procurement policy, e specially through schools meals programs, can contribute in re shaping the food production and distribution system. This will be done through a comparative analysis of the policy frameworks that support school meals programs in two countries: Italy and the United States. Universities, schools, hospitals and other institutions are increasingly concerned about their impact on the environment, human health, labor, animal welfare and other issues. It is clear that, being committed to the public good, these inst itutions can become important drivers for the development of more socially and environmentally responsible products and services. The improvements can begin with the re organization of the regional food procurement and distribution system. Institutional bu yers such as schools, university dining services, and restaurants, play an important


13 role in terms of food consumption in the global food system (Peterson et al. 2010) For instance, of $1.14 trillion spent on food items in the United States in the year 20 07, about half was consumed away from home through institutions, compared to only 0.4% which was consumed directly from farmers, manufactur ers, or wholesalers (USDA 2008) In Europe, more than half of the population consumes one meal a day outside of their homes. By buying, processing and serving millions of meals a day, canteens represent a great possibility of creating a deep change in the market moving towards better clean er and fairer food and practices. Institutions, and in particular schools, have a huge responsibility in improving canteen services and guarantee ing children a more varied and authentic understanding of food. Many government and agencies are intervening with the creation of policies and programs to support schools in the design of a mo re sustainable lunch program, such as partnerships between small scale farms, private/nonprofit sectors and public institutions. It is recognized that these partnerships can yield benefits to students, farms, and communities (USDA National Commission on Sm all Farms 1998) Farm to institution policies were designed to increase the profitability of small farms production, compared to his earnings in the indus trial food economy (Smith 1992) Even though the difference in earnings may vary from case to case, the literature support s the claim that farmers profitability is higher when the products are sold through a shorter supply chain involving fewer agents such as processors, i ntermediaries, and di stributors (Vogt and Kaiser 2008) In addition the advantages related to nutrition and economic profitability,


14 impact of the food production and dist ribution system. Globalized food systems tend to increase the external costs bor n e by the society and environment, in particular the ones related to transportation and packaging (Coley et al. 2009) Furthermore, school lunch policies are designed to addres s problems such as the need for obesity prevention and diet and nutrition education. School meals initiatives can al so be an accessible channel for educating children about the value of agriculture and the importance of consuming fresh and healthy food. R esearch Problem Public institutions have a great responsibility in improving the food supply and distribution systems. Through the improvement of the public food procurement system, institutional buyers can play an important role on the way food is produc ed and distributed in the society. Especially schools and universities, through their educational function can help new generations solve some of the most important challenges for the future, such as environmental issues, poverty and inequality, and conce rns related to human health. Starting from these ideas, s ustainable school lunch policies and programs have been developed in many countries around the world, sharing some common elements but presenting also many differences. In the following document the reader will find an attempt to summarize the literature on the topic and to identify common elements from school lunch programs in different countries. The analysis will focus on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and on the Farm to S chool program i n the United States, and on the situation of the school dining services in Italy. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally funded school meal program operating in over 100,000 public and non profit private institutions in the United


15 States. NSLP provided nutritionally balanced, low cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in 2010 (USDA Healthy Meals Resource System 2011) The Farm to S chool program is a nother federal funded program aimed to connect regional producers with school food programs. In a schoo l food system that adopts this approach, institutions in the education sector would buy a significant amount of the food they serve sourcing directly from local farmers. Schools and universities would thus become a new and accessible market for those regio nal farmers (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) In the I talian case, it is possible to affirm that food served in schools has a focus on procurement and sustainability: m eals are an important element of Ital culture, and eating good food is part of the fundamen tal right to health to which each individual is entitled and also part of development (Harper et al. 2008; Morgan and Sonnino 2007; Ruffolo 2001) The link between local, organic food and public cater ing food policies peaked in 1999 when the Italian Government issued Finance Law 488 (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) The legislative act mandates that public canteen s in schools and other institutions have to increase the quota of regionally sourced, organic, g ood quality food products including items with protected geographical status such as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). A broader approach was implemented under law by the Commissione Mensa (Canteen Commiss ion) which involves families in the monitoring and evaluation of the quality of the school meal service (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) Th e present analysis will focus on identifying the features of the policy framework that support sustainable school lunch pr ograms The research aim is to


16 compare the characteristics of the school lunch programs in United States and Italy. To support the comparison a framework was developed based on the Rethinking School Lunch G uide (RSLG) (Stone et al. 2010) The original fram ework was extended and adapted in order to meet the purpose of this analysis and the literature on the topic was reviewed RSLG establishes ten criteria: 1. The first criterion is named f ood and health and relates to how t he school food program promotes health through menus that feature a variety of delicious, appealing, nutritious offerings 2. The second criterion, called local policy framework, aims to assess to what extent local policy frameworks develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate mechanisms f or providing healthy meals as well as teaching about nutrition and the relationships between food, health, culture, and the environment 3. The aim of the third criterion, called teaching and learning, is to measure the contribution of policies and school skills, and attitudes related to where our food comes from; how it is produced; and the connections between our food, our health, and the environment. 4. The dining experience criterion considers if school lun ch programs and policy framework provide incentives to schools to create an inviting dining ambience. 5. The procurement criterion judges how school meal programs find practical ways to supply fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown produce and products from l ocal and regional sources. 6. The facilities criterion aims to assess how program and policies contribute to the creation of dining services that offer fresh, locally grown food, while serving as inviting places to eat as well as learning centers that sup port classroom lessons. 7. The finance criterion assess how policy makers and schools directors use budget planning and creative initiatives to make the shift to fresher, more nutritious food ensuring the financial viability. 8. The waste management crit erion assess national policies and programs regarding the implementation of waste management programs for school lunch that reduce waste and help students understand the need to conserve natural resources. 9. The professional development analyzes if the n ational or local policy framework


17 need to offer meals featuring fresh and local food and to teach students about the relationship between food, health, and the environment. 10. Finally, the marketing and communication criterion indicates if policy frameworks support schools in successfully promote healthy meal programs and meaningful learning environments to parents and students. The analysis will compare the situation in Italy and US for each criterion and draw some inferences concerning the differences and similarities of the two contexts. It is important to say that United States and Italy present enormous differences in terms of size, economic assets, and social feature s. I n spite of these differences the comparison provide s meaningful insight on key similarities and differences between meals programs in the two countries.


18 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction For many people across the world the act of eating toge ther is a social and cultural heritage. Food can also influence patterns of consumption and trade that significantly influenced the history of many cultures. Consuming food is an important event that involves the members of the community in a celebration m oment. However, around the industrialized world, these rituals are fading away as a consequence of a globalized food system that tends to separate people from food and its production chain. In the past, food and agriculture were based on local environments and seasons. Nowadays food production became a standardized and mechanized combination of capital, labor and investments, ready to be placed anywhere. This model of food production also had a dramatic impact on the agriculture sector. Many international o rganizations have recognized that changes in agriculture technology and specialized food production are contributing to damage to the livelihoods of more than 2.4 billion people who still depend on the land for their existence (FAO 2006; UNEP 2009) Agricu lture is in crisis. Even if the world's cultivated lands are producing at least as much food as they have in the past, there is much evidence that shows that the foundations of agricultural productivity is in danger. Chapter 2 describes the many problems c onfronting agriculture today and the theoretical foundations necessary in the analysis of the global and local food system. It concludes with a brief description of how to use ecological concepts and principles when designing and managing food systems, in order to progress towards a more sustainable model of production.


19 On a global scale, agriculture succeeded in the task of meeting a growing demand for food during the last fifty years. Yields per hectare increased dramatically for the major crops such as w heat, rice and maize, food prices declined, the rate of increase in food production generally exceeded the rate of population growth, and chronic hunger has diminished (Alexandratos and Bruinsma, 2006) This unprecedented growth in food production was effe ct of the scientific advances and technological innovations, especially development of new plant varieties and hybrids, the use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, and the investments on infrastructure for transport and irrigation. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, our system of global food practices, and policies that have allowed increases in productivity have also undermined the basis for that produ (Gliessman 2007) There is abundant evidence of an overexploitation and degradation of the precious natural resources that are the base of agriculture production: soil, water resources, and natural genetic diversity. To many the present system of agricultural production is unsustainable; over the long term it will not be possible to continue to produce enough food for the global population because of the deterioration of the conditions that make agriculture possible (UNEP 2009) The following sections will briefly present the theoretical foundations necessary in the analysis of the state of the global and local food system. This will help to identify the path towards the creation of a more sustainable food system. T he first part w ill focus on a broader vision of the goals of the global food system as a response to the challenges emerged in the domain of environment, health and economic sustainability.


20 The Evolution Beyond t he Conventional Agriculture Modern food production is dee ply influenced by the scientific advances and technological innovations of the conventional agriculture system. This agricultur al system is based mainly on the maximization of production and profit through the implementation of a series of practices. Howev er, these practices have been developed without taking in account the ecological dynamics of ecosystems and the long term consequences on productivity (Gliessman 2007) Seven basic practices can be identified as the pillars of modern industrial agricultur e: intensive tillage, monoculture, irrigation, application of inorganic fertilizer, chemical pest control, genetic manipulation of domesticated plants and animals, and intensive livestock operations (Gliessman 2007) These practices are integrated into a s pecific framework where food production is treated like an industrial process: plant and animal productivity is maximized by providing the appropriate inputs; their efficiency is increased by manipulation of their genetic pools; and the environments in whi ch they exist are under strict control. Today, a growing body of literature supports the thesis that the practices of conventional agriculture tend to undermine future productivity in favor of high productivity in the present (Carpenter and Gunderson 2001 ; Costanza 2007; Gliessman 2007; Pezzey 1992; Pretty 1994; UNEP 2009) This is confirmed also by empirical evidence; for instance, the majority of countries in which Green Revolution practices were adopted at a large scale have experienced declines in the annual growth rate of the agricultural sector (FAOSTAT 2008; Gliessman 2007) Moreover, in many areas devoted to cereal production, yields have begun to level off and even decrease


21 following the initial remarkable improvements due to the introduction of mo dern techniques in the early 1960s, such as improved seeds, monoculture, and fertilizers. Figure 2 1 shows the world's annual per capita grain production from 1961 to 2006, as calculated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The g raph shows that after the initial increases, per capita production of cereal grains reached a peak around the year 1989, and started a downward trend that continues today. This per capita decrease can be explained by the combination of reduced annual yield increases and continued population growth. The consequences of conventional agriculture manifest in a dramatic overexploitation and degradation of precious resources such as soil, water, and genetic diversity. As a result of this degradation, global ecol ogical processes that are the base of agriculture are altered causing damages to human health and to social organization. In economic terms, these negative effects are excluded from the cost benefit analysis that allows conventional agricultural operations The internalization of these externalized costs in the economic analysis is a crucial step for the evolution beyond of the conventional agriculture system. Goals for the Agriculture of a New Global Food System To und erstand the significance of food production is necessary to analyze the interaction between the environment and the food production system. The natural environment, with all its ecosystem services, comprises the entire basis for life on the planet (UNEP 20 09) There is a strong link between the state of the environment and food production, especially when considering the interaction of water, nutrients, soils, climate and weather. Environmental degradation due to unsustainable human practices


22 and activities could seriously endanger the entire production platform of the planet (UNEP 2009) As discussed in the previous section, the negative externalities created by the modern industrial production system could, in t he long run, negatively affect the capacity of the ecosystems to sustain life and produce food (UNEP 2009) FAO regards food production as one of the major contributors to CO 2 emissions and a leading cause in other environmental damages such as pollution, loss of biodiversity and soil degradation. O n the contrary, healthy ecosystems provide services that enhance agro ecosystem resilience and support agricultural productivity increases. Therefore, to promote the healthy functioning of ecosystems is a crucial objective for policy makers because it cont ributes to the sustainability of agriculture in a context of industrialization and growing global demand for food commodities. Despite its crucial role in providing food, agriculture remains the largest driver of genetic erosion, species loss and conversio n of natural habitats (UNEP 2009) As shown in Figure 2 2 intensive agriculture can pose a serious threat to the biodiversity of an ecosystem: globally, over 4,000 assessed plant and animal species are threatened by agricultural intensification, and the nu mber is expected to increase (Groombridge and Jenkins 2002) Over 1,000 (87%) of a total of 1,226 threatened bird species are impacted by agriculture (Huntley et al. 2007; Stattersfield et al. 2000) Moreover, UNEP verfishing and destructive fishing methods along with eutrophication caused by high nutrient run off from agricultural areas are among the major threats to inland and marine fisheries (UNEP 2009)


23 For the previously cited reasons, the re organization of the agro food procurement networks and policy framework regarding production and distribution is becoming an increasingly important issue for the future of planet earth. The paradigms that defined food and agriculture production during the past 60 years need to be deeply re examine d. New approaches are needed in order to respond to the difficult challenges resulting from climate change mitigation and adaptation, water scarcity, the decline of fossil energy sources, biodiversity loss, and persistent food insecurity in growing populat ions (UNEP 2009) Solution s based on the Green Revolution model will not be sufficient to address food crises in the upcoming years and current models of intensive livestock production will be regarded as highly unsustainable (UNEP 2009) In other words, g lobal, national and local food supply chains need to be reorganized in light of the new findings in agriculture and ecological research. In practice, future food production systems must contribute positively to the prosperity of healthy ecosystems and resi lient communities, must work towards the achievement of the objectives stated under the Millennium Development Goals, must provide watershed services and wildlife habitat, and finally sequester greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (FAO 2006) To achi eve these goals, a system based on subsidies to the agriculture sector alone will not be sufficient. A steady transition towards a low carbon, resource preserving type of agriculture that benefits the small farmers and favors local adaptation has to begin with a gradual and integrated approach (De Schutter 2008) This will need a proper design, through strategies and programs supported by strong political will,


24 informed by independent scientific research and realized with the active involvement of the popul ation. Many international organizations, such as FAO and World Bank, have identified a series of measures to progress towards the realization of the right to food. According to FAO the global agriculture system should be shaped towards the achievement of the following three objectives (De Schutter 2008) : 1. The a gricultur al system must ensure the availability of food for everyone. 2. Agriculture must develop in ways that increase the incomes of smallholders and foster strong local economies. 3. Agricul ture must not compromise its ability to satisfy future needs. The future world supply of food may be uncertain: increasing resource scarcity, risks from climate change, higher energy prices, demand for biofuels, and uncertainties about the speed of technic al progress all have implications for future agricultural performance (Freibauer et al. 2011) However, the food supply must match world needs, ensuring at the same time an efficient distribution and allocation between human consumption and other uses. Th e world food production and calorie intake per capita have increased substantially in the past century. Nevertheless, the absolute number of undernourished people has also increased to over 963 million, especially during the recent food crisis. By 2050, po pulation growth by an estimated 3 billion more people will increase food demand (UNEP 2009) The global production of cereals plays an essential role in the cereal co nsumpti on as shown in Figure 2 3 (UNEP 2009) As a result, any changes in the allocation of cereals for non human consumption will have an immediate effect on


25 estimate to increase from 37.4 kg/person/year in 2000 to over 52 kg/person/year by 2050 (FAO 2006) thus cereal requirements for more intensive meat production may increase substantially to more than 50% of total cereal production (Keyzer and Merbis 2005) In many developed co untries the excessive animal protein consumption is a major source of public health problems, and this could lead governments to improve policies in order to foster the reallocation of cereals used in animal feed to human consumption. The United Nations En vironmental Programme estimates that, even accounting for the energy value of the meat produced, the loss of calories that result from feeding cereals to animals instead of using cereals directly as human food represents the annual calorie need for more th an 3.5 billion people (UNEP 2009) To meet projected demand, cereal production will have to increase by nearly 50% and meat supply by 85 % from 2000 to 2030 (World Bank 2007) Added to this is the increasing demand for agricultural commodities for biofuel s, stimulated by the recent US policy. The effect was to push up world food prices: recent studies indicate estimates of real price of maize will increase up to 40 % by 2020, with repercussion on prices of substitute grains, given the rapid growth in biofue ls demand (Rosegrant and Msangi 2006) Managing the aggregate response of agriculture to rising demand will require good policy and sustained investments in the upcoming years (World Bank 2007) World agriculture depends mostly on small farms. Although ru ral urban migration has driven small farmers out of rural areas by the millions, family farmers are still present in the US and EU as an important secto r. Policy changes are necessary to take functio


26 to economic development than large farms (USDA National Commission on Small Farms 1998) Small farmers make better stewards of natural resources, c onserving biodiversity and better safeguarding the sustainability of production (Rosset 2000) Smaller scale farms seem to have little chances against the advancement of industrial agriculture. Family farms cannot afford the cost of upgrading their farm eq uipment and technologies in order to compete successfully with the large farm operations. Moreover, the increase in the share of the food dollar going to distributors and marketers, coupled with cheap food policies that have kept farm prices relatively sta ble, has left many farmers in a tightening squeeze between production costs and marketing costs. Figure 2 4 shows how the share of the consumer food expenditures going to farmers has dropped from almost 38% to less than 8%. Agricultural income growth has a particularly beneficial effect on welfare for the poorest households, in terms of expenditures. The evidence presented here is generally consistent with the view that while agricultural income growth is more effective at reducing poverty than is growth i n other sectors (Smith 1992) But some types of investments are more effective than others in achieving that objective. The multiplier effects are significantly higher when growth is triggered by higher incomes for smallholders, stimulating demand for good s and services from local sellers and service providers (Alston et al. 2000) The third goal states that agriculture must not compromise its ability to satisfy future needs. The loss of biodiversity, unsustainable use of water, and pollution of soils and water are issues which compromise the continuing ability for natural resources to support agriculture (De Schutter 2008; UNEP 2009) A sustainable model of agriculture


27 would minimize the negative impact on the environment and drastically reduce the amounts of toxic substances released into the atmosphere, surface water, or groundwater. Moreover, it will contribute to the preservation of soil fertility, avert soil erosion, and limit the use of water so to allow aquifers to be recharged. The sector would rely mainly on resources within the ecosystem, involving nearby communities and substituting external inputs with nutrient recycling. The farms would aim to conserve biological diversity for commercial and recreational use, both in the wild and in domesticated landscapes. Another aim would be to develop appropriate agricultural practices, knowledge, and technologies to make efficient use of the local agricultural resources (Gliessman 2007; Pezzey 1992; Pretty 1994) In order to progress toward achieving these g oals and contribute to an effective improvement of the global food system, the agricultural sector will have to be supported by a number of interventions in many policy domains such as transportation, health, energy, international trade, and education. T h e next section provides a brief introduction as to how schools and other institutions could play a major role in the re organization of the global food system through education of the new generations and by reforming their food procurement system. The Role of Schools in Shaping a New Food System Universities, schools, hospitals and other institutions are increasingly concerned about their impact on the environment, human health, labor, animal welfare and other issues. Even if these public organizations are not always directly related to the agricultural sector, schools and other institutions can become important drivers in the development of a more sustainable food production system. Through the improvement of the public food procurement system, institutiona l buyers can play an important role in


28 the way food is produced and distributed in society. S chools and universities can also help new generations to solve some of the most important challenges for the future, such as environmental issues, poverty and ineq uality, and concerns related to human health. As noted in the previous sections, the modern food system and its industrial production method had a great influence in the evolution of global food consumption patterns. For instance, there has been an increas e in the consumption of processed and high caloric food and a reduction of the presence of local and traditional products in the diet of industrialized countries, especially in urban areas (Cutler et al. 2003) The literature shows that this trend seems to be increasing among the young generations, with higher consumption of unhealthy food and reduction of physical activity (Ebbeling et al. 2002) Especially urban areas of Europe and North America are facing an increase in obesity and over nutrition W orld wide obesity has more than doubled since 1980 (WHO 2011) In 2008, 1.5 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010 (WHO 2011) Once considered mainly a high income country problem, overweight and obesity are now greater in low and middle income countries ; in fact about 35 million overweight children are living in developing countries compared to 8 million in developed countries (Ebbeling et al. 2002; WHO 2011) O ver nutrition is li nked to increasingly common pathologies, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Conversely, child malnutrition has doubled and anemia among preschool children represents a new challenge. Child malnutrition and obesity are


29 affecting children simultaneous ly in some countries, making it one of the most outrageous paradoxes in contemporary societies (Caballero 2005) The re organization of the global food system will thus become a priority of many political agendas. A change to a more localized diet is cruc ial to reducing health problems linked to unbalanced diets and its public and environmental costs. Sourcing more food from regional producers may also contribute to improve local economies and enhance local sustainability. Therefore, institutions and schoo ls have a double responsibility in order to improve food supply and distribution systems: providing food and environmental education to youth and supporting a more sustainable agriculture model. In order to achieve the previously mentioned goals an integra ted approach is necessary: a multi disciplinary framework aimed to include all relevant sectors of the food production and distribution chain (agriculture, fiscal and urban planning, education, etc. ), would be effective in making a real improvement and to re establish a better balance.


30 Figure 2 1. Worldwide grain production per capita, 1961 to 2006. Data source: FAO, FAOSTAT database of 2008; 115 120 125 130 135 140 145 150 155 1961 1964 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 Kilograms


31 Figure 2 2. A photographic impression of the gradual changes in two ecosystem types. (2009 ). In UNEP/GRID Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. photographic impression of the gradual changes in tw o ecosystem types Designers: Michel Jeuken, PBL and Hugo Ahlenius, Nordpil.


32 Figure 2 3. Changes in historic and projected composition of human diet and the nutritional value, 1964 2030. (2009). In UNEP/GRID Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. change in developing countries 1964 2030 Designer: Ahlenius, Nordpil


33 Figure 2 4. US farmers' declining share of the consum er food dollar, 1910 to 1997. Marketing represents all services performed after food leaves the farm gate. The farmers' share includes payments to local governments and hired labor. Inputs include all purchased, nonfarm inputs. Source: Data from Stewart Sm ith, University of Maine, 2005.


34 CHAPTER 3 M ETHODOLOGY Studying Lunch Programs i n the Schools o f Italy a nd United States C hapter 3 provides a framework for the analysis of the features of the school lunch programs in the United States and Italy. The fr amework contains approaches that belong to a wide range of scientific fields. These are joined together to address specific research questions referr ing to one aspect of the interactions between schools and social, economic and environmental context. Unit ed States and Italy present enormous differences in terms of size, economic assets, and social organization However, it is important to note that in spite of these differences the comparison can provide meaningful insight on key similarities and differen ces between meals programs in the two countries. T h is analysis started with an extensive bibliographical research to identify the various aspects of the interaction between school lunch programs and local context Thus, for each country a number of public ations and studies on the topic of sustainable school lunch were selected. The findings emerged from the literature review of school lunch programs in the two countries were confronted with qualitative and quantitative data obtained consulting institutiona l databases, such as FAOSTAT and USDA (FAOSTAT 2008; USDA 2011; USDA 2008) Methods Over the past decade, a body of literature has emerged on the role of public institutions on sustainable food procurement. This thesis examined the studies with emphasis o n national school lunch and farm to school programs. The purpose was to summarize the current knowledge on the topic of sustainable school lunch programs.


35 Studies were identified through article citations and searches of electronic databases; precisely, An nual Reviews, Jstor, Wiley, PubMed, Springer, and Science Direct, using several key words such as: school lunch, sustainable public procurement, public catering, school food, Farm to School farm to school and farm to institution. The re levant findings which emerged were fitted in to a framework for the analysis of school lunch programs This is presented below Developing a framework for the analysis of school lunch programs The school lunch program in each country will be assessed using ten criteria as shown in Figure 3 1. The framework was originally developed by the Center for Ecoliteracy in the Rethinking School Lunch guide (Stone et al. 2010) The framework was adapted in order to meet the purpose of this analysis and its criteria we re partially changed. The data were compared to programs, considering the national, regional and local legislations. In the following section there is an explanation of the rationale behind the definition of each m ain criterion. The criteria are listed in Table 3 1. Food and H ealth Nutrition in childhood is an extremely important factor, because it promotes growth, health, learning, and reduced risks for chronic diseases (Taras 2005a) A balanced diet is essential for children to do conduct healthy and productive lives. Schools determined to offer healthy school meals are facing many challenges, especially financial and facility constraints, conflicting government regulations, and diffidence from students and famil ies. By developing integrated strategies to overcome these challenges, schools can provide healthy and nutritious meals, improve the educational outcomes and contributing to have a healthier community. The purpose of


36 the food and health criterion is to mea sure to what extent school lunch programs offer nutritious, appealing school meals and effective education about nutrition so that students can achieve their full academic potential and learn to make healthful choices (Stone et al. 2010) As already mentio ned, obesity among young people tripled between 1980 and 2008 (WHO 2011) Contributing in addressing diet related illnesses are often between the main objectives of school lunch initiatives. Recent studies indicate that nutrition in early age directly af fects the physical structure of brain, with implication on memory, attention, and reasoning skills (Alaimo 2001; Bourre 2006; Jyoti 2005) Students that follow a well balanced diet usually perform better than poorly nourished students on standardized tests (Meyers and Sampson 1989; Taras 2005a) Optimal cognitive function requires essential vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins. In addition, m any are the factors physical exercise, food and drink consumed away from school, at titudes and behaviors convoyed by parents and other adults, place of residence and local access to affordable healthy food (Leventhal 2000) Therefore, well on what is visible and easily considerable impact on what children eat (Barnes 2010) tight budget s to imp rove the nutritional content and appeal of school meals with seasonal, local, and fresh ingredients. Discounting the management costs and considering only


37 food expenses, the average school nutrition services department has approximately one dollar to spend on ingredients composing a lunch (Stone et al. 2010; USDA 2011) Offering healthy foods in the schools is usually not a sufficient measure to motivate students to change their eating behaviors, especially if foods are unfamiliar. The environment of the l creative marketing and communications are all factors in attracting students to healthy school meals. All these aspects will be examined in the upcoming sections. Local Policy F ramework The school nutrition program is guided by local policies, which in some cases were developed and implemented through a collaborative community process. This criterion aims to measure to what extent local policy frameworks develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate me chanisms for providing healthy meals as well as teaching about nutrition and the relationships between food, health, culture, and the environment. A school district policy is a way of communicating to the public a shared vision and language about needed ch ange. Innovations that occur at a single school are unlikely to yield a lasting change unless those innovations are established in a wider policy framework (Stone et al. 2010) This criterion also indicates if there is a long term vision that underscores t he conviction that nutrition education, school meal programs, physical activities, and other aspects of health education need to reinforce each other. The process of change can begin anywhere in schools or outside the formal structure, with the involvemen t of parents, health care professio nals, researchers, and others. Creating long term reform is strictly connected to the actions of those inside the formal structure of the school; however innovations must have the support of stakeholders throughout the co mmunity. The local policy framework should designate a


38 representative \ advisory committee (sometimes called a canteen committee, health council, or child nutrition advisory council) in charge of monitoring, evaluating, and recommending revisions to the poli cy. The committee should meet regularly and report annually to the governing board on the progress in implementing the policy. Local policy frameworks are shaped to suit the needs and priorities of their communities. The advisory committee creates opportu nities for people to decide about and collaborate around the issues that matter to the local context. They can assist the community and schools to become partners in realizing a healthier environment. Representatives from local hospitals and other organiza tions can play a significant role in local policy advisory committees. Community representatives can bring expertise in strategic planning and needs assessments. They often have access to data on health indicators and trends, and knowledge about national a nd regional requirements and Teaching and L earning about food, culture, health, an d the environment by combining proactive learning inside and outside of the classroom. When integrating different educational experiences students are more likely to make wise food choices that affect their personal health and environmental well being. As noted in previous ly the change in food habits in the last few decades contributed to the corrupt ion of both individual and environmental health: obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other diet related diseases are on the rise, in addition to the e mergence of environmental issues. Moreover, an increasing percentage of population is not aware of the complexity of the food system, failing to understand that food represents a web of relationships that sustains all life in the global


39 ecosystem (Altieri 2002; Dalgaard 2003; Stone et al. 2010; UNEP 2009) If schools aim is to contribute in reversing these trends, educational organizations must help young generations understand the connections between their food, their health, and the environment. Linking t eaching and learning in the classroom to healthy and sustainable food in the school lunch programs will help students develop healthier dietary habits. It will also lead to a more sustainable future for generations to come (Stone et al. 2010; Story 2008) The aim of this criterion is to measure the contribution of policies and school lunch comes from; how it is produced; and the connections between our food, our health, and the environment. As mentioned in the previous section, a well balanced diet in childhood and adolescence contributes to optimal health, growth, intellectual development, and disease prevention. Schools and institutions have the responsibility to educa te the community about health and nutrition. Students should obtain the skills, social support, and environmental support to adopt long term, healthy behaviors. This will have a noticeable influence to the overall well being of our society. Food is multi dimensional as it is related to multiple policy domains such as public health, education, quality of life and environment (Lang et al. 2009) Thus, to have a better understanding of its dimensions food has to be presented through an interdisciplinary appro ach. With food as common framework, subjects such as science, integrated way that has value and meaning outside the classroom. Such an integrated


40 curriculum contributes to te everyday lives than a classic subject by subject approach (Stone et al. 2010) T he discussion in Chapter 2 showed that ho w food is processed, transported, marketed, prepared, and disposed is critica l to central sustainability issues, including resource use, energy, pollution, water and soil conservation, and employment (De Schutter 2008; UNEP 2009) Food can be an ideal teaching framework for understanding the interrelations of such issues as hunger, trade policy, energy use, and climate change (Gliessman 2007) As noted before, students learn from everything they experience during school time not only in the classroom. In the lunchroom, for instance, students learn about nutrition and sustainabilit y by observing what food is available, how it is served, and how waste is managed. A school that offers fresh and nutritious food, leaves an adequate amount of time to consume it, and composts kitchen waste represents a virtuous model compared to a school that sells junk food and sends waste to the landfill (Stone et al. 2010) The Dining E xperience in school meal program s are related to their experience in the lunchroom. Regarding this aspect, it is considered important the p erception of the school cafeteria, which in many cases is perceived as an unpleasant, noisy environment with unhealthy food (Gramigni 2008) However, some examples around the world demonstrate that is possible to make the dining experience more pleasant an d less chaotic, and thus increase participation rates (Joshi and Beery 2007) The dining experience consists of a combination of many factors, such as visual ambience, smells, sounds, tastes, and social atmosphere. Schools have to pay


41 attention to the ligh ting, the sound level, the time allowed for eating, the wall decorations, the way food is presented, the attitudes and actions of nutrition services staff, and the quality of social interactions during meals (Stone et al. 2010) A program can be regarded a s a failure if underestimates the impact of the eating environment on student interest for school lunch (Joshi and Azuma 2009) The aim of this criterion is to assess if school lunch programs and policy framework provide incentives to schools to create an inviting dining ambience. Canteens and cafeterias should encourage healthy interaction and healthy eating, a place that students enjoy, that makes the lunch period a time they look forward to, and that helps them feel safe and valued at mealtime (Stone et al. 2010) The school lunch environment should encourage healthy eating habits and healthy interactions. It is also essential that having lunch is consistent with what students are taught in the classroom about nutrition and healthy eating habits, good cit izenship and participation, and the environment (Stone et al. 2010) The social atmosphere during lunch is central to the learning processes that occur in these moments. The habits of waiting for everyone to be seated or served, eating and talking togethe r, and cleaning the table s are important behaviors to learn and practice respect for the others and patience. If properly driven the practice of these habits and social skills can begin to positively influence the culture of the entire school (Stone et al 2010) Students who participate in choosing the food that is served or who take an active part in preparing meals are more likely to participate in a school lunch program (Stone et al. 2010) A various range of educational activities can be performed by students,


42 such as help with menu planning through focus groups, surveys, and taste tests. If provided with assistance from an adult, students can also actively prepare and serve food and do other tasks connected with the dining room. When students contrib uted in preparing and choosing food, they are more likely to participate in school lunch programs. Schools need to not discriminate against some students or other people and offer an equal treatment to each one. Other measures should address accessibility of the facilities and provide special meals for users with intolerance or cultural \ religious food limitations. These kinds of measures contribute to make every user feel comfortable and welcome in the school lunch environment. Procurement When schools a nd other public institutions beg in to procure fresh, local, or organic ingredients, they also contribute in increasing the nutritional value of meals, benefit the environment, support the local agriculture and economy, and help the re forming process of th e food system. Procuring local and regional products presents many challenges to schools and public institutions. However, the movement to support these changes is growing and more initiatives establish and strengthen relationships between local foods and school children. In recent years, changes to policies, regulations and procurement guidelines created new incentives to purchase fresh, locally grown produce. The aim of this criterion is to assess how school meal programs find practical ways to supply fre sh, seasonal, sustainably grown produce and products from local and regional sources. The development of the local economic system and particularly agriculture, contributes to providing more equitable economic opportunity for the local community,


43 reducing unemployment and driving an increase in consumption. A well organized local food system can be more integrated with the local context (i.e. water, soil, climate, plant and animal varieties) and have a lower environmental impact, reducing transportation and preservation costs. Policies and regulations in many countries have started to mandate schools to apply a geographical preference on the food they source for their canteens (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) Each local food system is differently shaped around co nstrictions and opportunities of the local climate, infrastructure and other factors. Schools and public institutions generally source fresh and local products for their lunch programs through a distributor or aggregator, or directly from farmers. Working with a distributor usually presents lower costs and less organizational efforts. Following the increased public interest in local sourcing, some distributors will now label their products indicating the source, enabling school lunch services to select loca lly grown products. Purchasing directly from individual farmers or from farmer cooperatives may be more difficult, but school gardens might become a supplemental source fo r some produce, depending on local climate and regulations. Due to financial and organizational constraints schools and other public canteens are not in a position to make dramatic short term changes in procurement. However, policies can foster the implem can contribute significantly to reduce its environmental impact. For instance, conventionally sourced food may travel thousands kilometers before being served in the cafeteria. Thus, procuring even a s mall number of items locally can reduce the fuel


44 needed for transport, support the local economy, and provide more nutrient rich produce. Moreover, this criterion analyses if policies and programs have a clear commitment to reduce environmental impact of s chool lunch. Policies can provide a wide range of tools that schools can use to procure more food from the regional or local context. Financial support or mandatory quotas for locally produced goods are the most common measures. However, other measures suc h an improved communication between producers, schools and local administration could yield more benefits and lead to synergies in the food procurement sector. This criterion measures also the overall availability of tools to support schools in starting to source more goods locally. Facilities The ambitious objective to change the food procurement system in schools and other institutions requires a much deeper approach than only removing unhealthy items from menus and offering new meals solutions. For i nstance, in order to prepare and serve fresh, seasonal food different kinds of facilities are needed. During the past decades, many schools aiming to reduce costs, decided to cut personnel and equipment used for the preparation of fresh food. As a conseque nce, facilities were not preserved or upgraded, and new schools were built without adequate spaces to prepare and serve food. Nowadays, many school and public institutions are equipped with unsatisfactory cafeterias, kitchens, dining areas, and storage fac ilities (Cullen et al. 2007; Stone et al. 2010) Schools are facing budget constraints and to redesign facilities can be a challenging task ; however with creative and efficient management school dining services can become a virtuous model in the fo od serv ice industry. The Facilities


45 criterion aims to assess how program and policies contribute to the creation of dining services that offer fresh, locally grown food, while serving as inviting places to eat as well as learning centers that support classroom le ssons (Stone et al. 2010) canteens wants to serve. School lunch policies often specify particular requirements that have implications for facilities design, such as noise red uction, light conditions, presence of outdoor spaces. When undertaking a facilities redesign, decision makers have to pay careful attention to the full intent of local policy framework. Moreover, the planning phase should be coordinated with nearby schools and institutions in order to foster synergies and reduce costs, for instance sharing facilities and equipment for the preparation of a kind of food. School lunch surroundings can be designed to function as learning centers, for instance reducing visual a nd social barriers between the kitchen and the dining room. A goal of school lunch program and policies is to encourage students learn from their lunchroom experience. An open kitchen design permits students to observe food preparation, leading to the acqu isition of skills and knowledge that can be valuable for their future experiences. Moreover, the design of clean up areas can facilitate recycling and composting as part of the learning experience. Finances Financial viability is one of the most importan t factor s t hat schools consider when shifting from prepackaged, prepared meals to fresh, less processed foods. Examples in the literature show that is possible to start a profitable program if it is supported by careful planning and a broad policy framewor k (Feenstra and Ohmart 2010; Joshi and Azuma 2009; Joshi et al. 2008; Mascarenhas and Gottlieb 2008; Rauzon et al. 2010;


46 Vallianatos et al. 2004) Planning and financial tools are available to estimate the impact of innovations in school lunch programs (US DA Healthy Meals Resource System 2011) determining the economic feasibility of improvements in food service. Schools often expect the food service to break even or gener ate profits; this can lead schools to serve highly processed or prepared meals in the belief that healthy, fresh meals from whole ingredients would be too costly. The paradox is that while slightly reduc ing the cost of school lunch programs societies then spend billions of dollars to address nutrition related illness (Caballero 2005; Stone et al. 2010) In the end, schools need to develop a variety of strategies to contain costs and increase revenues without compromising the quality of the meals offered. T he finance criterion assess how policy makers and schools directors use budget planning and creative initiatives to make the shift to fresher, more nutritious food ensuring the financial viability. When implementing a new food program schools have a good chance to introduce other changes that produce efficiency gains and overall savings. This will probably require an initial investment in training, equipment and management, but the result could lead to a decrease in total expenses. With qualified nutrition services staff, change can be regarded as an opportunity to improve efficiency and increase revenue stream. As mentioned before, appropriate programs of professional development can support staff towards the transition to an improved food service model. School services management have to be motivated to hire staff with the right skills and motivation, scheduling and assigning work more efficiently and concentrate skilled people where


47 they are most needed. These measures will likely translate into a better quality of food and service, increased participation rates and greater profitability of the lunch program. The root of the problem of financing improvements to school meal programs requires schools and policy makers to consider what they value in the eco nomic analysis. Meals served to students should be an accurate expression of the commitment to student health, reflecting these commitments into budget allocations and are derived from the better health of students: they will perform better and show positive attitudes, which will be beneficial during their whole life. Waste Management One of the most important issues in a typical school lunch program is the amount of wast e it creates and the cost to dispose of it (Buzby and Guthrie 2002; USDA Healthy Meals Resource System 2011) School meals are often served on disposable trays with disposable utensils and dishes. Food items from canteens or brought from home are often pac ked in plastic bags or boxes that are also disposable. Moreover, limited amount of time and low quality of food will influence the amount of food left by students, also contributing to more waste. Waste management plans include several initiatives, such as extension of the lunch period so students have more time to eat, reduction of prepackaged lunches, recycling, composting and others. The ideal school waste programs will involve students in learning activities to learn why societies need to conserve natur al resources and increase recycling and composting. School lunch programs should help students understand that humans live in an isolated ecosystem that presents limited resources and that waste can be regarded as energy and materials that can be reused an d recycled (Perman 2003; Stone et al. 2010) This criterion assess


48 national policies and programs regarding the implementation of waste management programs for school lunch that reduce waste and help students understand the need to conserve natural resourc es. A great number of schools and communities are underestimating the real costs of waste disposal, especially in the long term perspective. USDA in 2002 estimated a direct economic loss of $600 million a year in food waste in the National School Lunch Pro gram in the United States (Buzby and Guthrie 2002) In Italy, a 2010 study conducted total served, calculating an economic loss of 130 million euros per year considering all the public canteens (FIPE 2010) By reducing waste, schools can achieve significant cost reductions. Significant reductions in amount of waste may require long term planning, community involvement, or steady investments. However, relatively small measures can consi derably reduce waste and be pilot initiatives for wider changes. For instance, composting with vermin and the use of recycled materials for teaching purposes are simple and inexpensive ways to significantly reduce waste. These initiatives may start as once a month events that can help students form new everyday habits. When the school trains students composting, material reuse, and recycling, it contributes to spread ways in which children, families, and institutions can practice resource conservation dail y. Institutions can use waste management as a way to teach practical skills about composting or recycling and theoretical elements related to the lifecycles of foods and other products. Including waste management as part of the


49 curriculum contributes in in responsibility in environmental conservation. Professional Development Professional development is a fundamental strategy for changing institutions (Stone et al. 2010) The reform of school lun ch programs offers challenges and opportunities for teachers and communities. New menus that require more preparation labor may demand different skills from those currently required. Moreover teachers and students can also be involved in the professional d evelopment programs. This criterion with the professional training and support they need to offer meals featuring fresh and local food and to teach students about the re lationship between food, health, and the environment. satisfying and increasing the quality and efficiency of the school lunch program. Moreover, nutrition services staff members can b e recognized as educators, supporting teachers in the educational activities. Students learn more if engaged in active participation than by passively listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. For instance, small groups of students could be invo lved in the development of menus and meals to be served in the cafeteria. Teachers often lack experience in teaching multidisciplinary contents. For instance, food related issues involve contents from different disciplinary areas, such as ecology, biology nutrition, history and economics (Francis et al. 2003; Gliessman 2007) unifying theme in their instruction (Stone et al. 2010)


50 Marketing a nd Communications School lunc h programs must ensure an appropriate visibility to gain the support of parents, students, and other stakeholders of the community. As mentioned in previous sections, community support and involvement is a crucial element to ensure the success of a school lunch program. In the United States, nearly $10 billion is spent yearly advertising food and beverages that are marketed to children (Kovacic et al. 2008) During one year, children between 8 and 12 years old see an average of more than 7,600 food ads (Gan tz et al. 2007) Ninety percent of these ads promote products high in sugar, fat, and/or sodium (Powell et al. 2007) For these reasons, it is crucial to identify what appeals to students, and what prompts parents to support particular programs. Targeting the communications campaigns to the specific audience will increase attention a nd acceptance by the community. The marketing and communication criterion indicates if policy frameworks support schools in successfully promote healthy meal programs and meanin gful learning environments to parents and students (Stone et al. 2010) Student acceptance is related to the way the school lunch program is positioned and promoted; moreover parental support is influenced by student acceptance. Policy makers have to make sure to include the entire relevant marketing factors when preparing a policy framework such as identification of audience group, involvement of the stakeholders in the community, provide adequate budget and know how support to run communication campaigns (Stone et al. 2010) Schools can involve them in the design and realization of the campaigns, having also an educational outcome: teachers can support students into conducting taste tests,


51 videotape interviews with peers, lead student focus groups, suggest selling points adults may not consider, and participate as student members of the district nutrition advisory committee (Stone et al. 2010) Successful school lunch programs put in place a continuous monitoring and feedback system to continually improve their service. An effective marketing strategy includes a variety of approaches, channels, and messages that can b e refined as the program grows (Stone et al. 2010) Figure 3 1 F ramework for the ana lysis of school lunch programs Graphics our design. Labels adapted from : Stone MK, Brown K, Comnes L, Koulias J (2010) Rethinking School Lunch Guide, II. Center for Ecoliteracy, Berkeley )


52 Table 3 1. Framework for the Analy sis of School Lunch Program 1. Food and Health 1.1. Consideration of diet related illness 1.2. 1.3. 1.4. Measures to overcome difficulties in the organization of sc hool meals program 2. Local Policy Framework 2.1. Long term comittment 2.2. Advisory Committee 2.3. Empowering of community 3. Teaching and learning 3.1. 3.2. Interdisciplinary approach 3.3. Lunch time as educational area 4. The dining exp erience 4.1. Development of social skills 4.2. 4.3. Inclusive program 5. Procurement 5.1. Use of locally produced goods 5.2. Source differentiation 5.3. Reduce environmental impact 5.4. Resources available as support 6. Facilities 6.1. Adaptation to the menu 6.2. Facilities Planning 6.3. Lunchrooms as learning centers 7. Finances 7.1. Efficiency improvements 7.2. Professional development of staff 7.3. Cost benefit analysis 8. Waste Management 8.1. Cost Saving 8.2. Incentives to small \ pilot initiatives 8.3. WM as Learning opportunity 9. Professional Development 9.1. Staff 9.2. Students 9.3. Teachers 10. Marketing and communications 10.1. 10.2. Monitoring and feedback


53 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS: THE UNITED STATES Evaluation o f Lunch Program In the last ten years the re has been a steady growth of the NSLP and of Farm to School initiatives in various s tates. Each program has unique features, but criteria discussed in C hapter 3 help in the evaluation of those initiatives at a regional or national level. In the following section various elements of the Farm to School and s chool lunch initiatives will be examined. Food and Health In the United States there has been an increasingly high attention on diet related illness. Since the mid 1990s the USDA, which administers the school meal programs, has launched several initiatives to improve the quality of school meals. These included establishing new nutrition standards that require that meals meet the recommendations given by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for total fat and saturated fat, providing training and technical assistance to help school foodservice personnel prepare nutritional balanced meals and promote healthy eating behaviors among children (Kubik and Lytle 2003) In addition, the USDA commissioned the Instit ute of Medicine (IOM) to recommend revised meal requirements and nutrition standards for school meals. The IOM report was released in 2010 and the USDA is currently assessing the recommendations and developing new regulations. Besides, the Obama Administr ation has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the nutritional quality of school meals, calling for increased funding of $10 billion over the next 10 years to ensure that schools have the resources they need to make necessary changes, including ad equate kitchen equipment and federal


54 reimbursement. Moreover, the current Administration has established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement a plan for an integrated strategy, to identify key targets, and outline an action plan. Mo reover in 2010 US First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let's Move! Campaign, which is a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the problem of childhood obesity in a generation. Let's Move! is currently promoting several sub programs (some of them will be discussed in the next sections) that mobilize a vast array of actors, including elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith based and community based organizations, and private sector companies (USDA 2011) Meals at school are available through the USDA's school breakfast and lunch programs and through foods sold a la carte in cafeterias. School breakfasts and school lunches must meet federal nutrition standards, but food items sold from private compa nies are exempt from such requirements (Ralston et al. 2008) Besides, budget pressures force schools to sell the popular but nutritionally poor competitive foods Though federal nutrition regulations are insufficient to solve the obesity related problems, they permit state and local authorities to impose additional restrictions. Some states limit sales of non nutritious foods, and many large school districts restrict competitive foods (Story et al. 2006) Studies have found that children participating in t he federal School Breakfast Program show increases in daily attendance, class participation, and academic test scores and decreases in tardiness (Taras 2005b) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers resources and guidelines for schools and administration that promote healthy eating in childhood and adolescence,


55 In spite of the increased attention given by US institutions, most children do not follow the USDA Dieta ry Guidelines for Americans, which recommend 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day and limiting fat intake to no more than 30% saturated fat intake to less than 10% of daily calories consumed (US Dept of Health and Human Services 2000) The 201 0 Task Force on Childhood Obesity reports that in the 2004 05 school year 93 94% of meals failed to meet all nutritional standards, primarily due to not meeting standards for fat, saturated fat, or calories (Gordon and Cohen 2009) Local Policy Framework In the US there are several instruments available for local communities to provide a foundation for school district practices and procedures. For instance, with the passage of the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) of 2004 and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010, school districts participating in federally subsidized child nutrition programs (e.g., National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program and Afterschool Snack Program) are required to establish a local school wellness policy. Local wellness policies are an important tool for parents, local educational agencies (LEAs) and school districts to promote student wellness, prevent and reduce childhood obesity, and provide assurance that school meal nutrit ion guidelines meet the minimum f ederal school meal standards (Wootan 2011) While many LEAs included plans for implementation in their written wellness policies as required by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, they were not required to report on policy compliance and implementation; as a result, implementation and evaluation efforts were not monitored regularly Section 204 of the Child Nutrition


56 Reauthorization 2010 Act strengthens wellness policies by emphasizing ongoing implementa tion and assessment. This provision also supports a robust process at the community level, including the expansion of the team of collaborators participating in the wellness policy development to include more members from the community. This approach is in tended to foster broad based community support for the development and implementation of effective wellness policies. The Act also requires the USDA to promulgate regulations that provide the framework and guidelines for these local wellness policies, and to provide information and technical assistance to LEAs, school food authorities, and State agencies (SAs) for use in establishing healthy school environments that are intended to promote student health and wellness (USDA Farm to School Team 2010) As was previously required, local wellness policies must include, at a minimum, goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other school based activities that promote student wellness, as well as nutrition guidelines to promote student health and reduce childhood obesity for all foods av ailable on each school campus (Wootan 2011) The Act added the requirement that local wellness policies include goals for nutrition promotion. LEAs are now required to permit teachers of physical education and school heal th professionals as well as parents, students, and representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administrators, and the public to participate i n the development of policies. Finally the Act requires LEAs to inform and update the p ublic about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies (Wootan 2011)


57 The program was designed to encourage mayors and elected officials to adopt a long term, sustainable and holistic approach to fighting childhood obesity (USDA 2011) Teaching and L earning School based nutrition education should focus not only on the provision of nutritional information, but also on the development of skills and behaviors related to areas such as food preparation, food production, processing and storage, and social and cultural aspects of food and eating (Stone et al. 2010) Teachers should be responsible for curriculum implementation an d supported by qualified staff. There is a wide array of teaching methods that can be used according to learning objectiv es: from classroom discussions to field trips or cooking class In the United States there is not a unified program addressing the imp ortance of environment by combining proactive learning inside and outside of the classroom. However, the Farm to School program support school districts in activities that combine purchasing local food items and providing educational opportunities for students, such as nutrition or agriculture lessons, school gardens, taste testing, and field trips to nearby farms. Many of the educational activities are funded through grants. Overall, it is the involvement of school administrators, principals, teachers, and other stakeholders from community that is a key factor for the success of these educational activities. The Dining E xperience and F acilities. rates in the school meal program are related to their experience in the lunchroom and to the condition of the facilities. For instance, the


58 National School Lunch Act recognizes the importance of these aspects in Section 2: "It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress, as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well being of the Nation's children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other food, by assisting the States, through grants in aid and other means, in providing an adequate supply of food and other facilities for the establishment, maintenance, operation and expansion of nonprofit school lunch programs 1 provide healthier and more sustainable food. The way schools operate and design food facilities has a major impact on the success of a lunch program. The NSLP and Farm to School programs offer support to school districts to obtain adequate facilities to o ffer a pleasant and nutritionally balanced food to their students. For instance in the years 2009 and 2010, in accordance with Section 7(a)(2) of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, USDA funded the purchase of equipment to eligible school districts participat ing in the NSLP. The overall goal of the grant is to improve the infrastructure in schools participating in the NSLP while stimulating activity in the local economy. Procurement School food procurement in the United States is typically conducted at the sc hool district level and most districts use several vendors for food supplies, including one primary wholesaler, and regionally based food distributors that deliver items such as milk, bread, and produce (Izumi et al. 2010a; Ralston et al. 2008) The increa se of food 1 P ublic Law 396 79th Congress, June 4, 1946, 60 Stat. 231.


59 procurement from local suppliers is one of the objectives of the Farm to School movement: helping schools to reconnect with local food producers (Izumi and Rostant 2006) The results of this effort gave the possibility to more than 1,000 schools in 38 states to buy fresh products from local farms (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) USDA has worked to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables and to allow schools to purchase products through the Department of Defense (DoD) procurement syste m, and to encourage schools to obtain fresh produce locally (USDA 2011) The USDA Fruit and Vegetable Program was also intended to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in schools by making free fruits and vegetables available for snacks (USDA Farm to S chool Team 2010) The geographic preference option was authorized by Section 4302 of Public Law 110 246, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 allowing institutions receiving funds through the Child Nutrition Programs to apply an optional geograp hic preference in the procurement of unprocessed locally grown or locally raised agricultural products (USDA Farm to School Team 2010) This provision applies to operators of all of the Child Nutrition Programs, as well as to purchases made for these progr ams through the DoD Fresh Program (USDA 2011) The law also applies to State agencies making purchases on behalf of local agencies under any of the Child Nutrition Programs. According to the final regulation issued on April 22, 2011, the definition of School districts that participate in the Child Nutrition Programs must follow specific procurement requirements when procuring for goods or services, such as food items


60 (Rals ton et al. 2008) However this can follow a simplified informal procedure if the purchase is below a certain threshold. On the other hand, local procurement for a sustainable school food service potential has been hindered by the prevalence of the economi c criteria (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) In the US the biggest barrier to sustainable procurement has been a systemic tendency to adopt the low cost criteria over the origin one. The US Department of Agriculture interprets the regulations in a way that school districts are not allowed to specify local geographic preferences when they issue their tenders. In order to promote a more sustainable and local school food procurement in the United States institutions could clarify the regulations so that local sourcin g is positively and explicitly encouraged by federal and state legislation (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) Finances The financial viability of sustainable school food programs is one of the most difficult challenges to overcome by the school districts. As noted in the previous sections, grants and other funding are available in the United States for improvements in the school lunch program. For instance, planning and financial tools are available to estimate the impact of innovations in school lunch programs (US DA Healthy Meals Resource System 2011) receive support when determining the economic feasibility of improvements in food service. School food service revenue is generated largely through fede ral meal reimbursements, commodity entitlement, and food sales (Izumi et al. 2010a) Schools participating in federal food programs receive reimbursements based on the number of and reduced price meal s (Izumi et


61 al. 2010b) To overcome the financial problems, many schools depend on revenues from commercial foods. Such foods have been found to contribute to overconsumption of calories, increased plate waste of nutritionally balanced NSLP lunches, and de creased intakes of nutrients by students (Ralston et al. 2008) However, it has been noted that state policymakers are cautious when applying restrictions on commercial foods sales. These kinds of restrictions might create financial challenges for schools since competitive foods revenues are used to fund food service operations, field trips, and athletic equipment and facilities (Msse et al. 2007) Moreover, due to the fact that food service professionals operate under intense budget and time pressure, the y favor vendors that can assure high volume, acceptable quality, timeliness, and adherence to food service specifications (Izumi et al. 2009) If several vendors meet these criteria school districts typically select the vendor that provides the lowest pri ce. This system favors wholesale distributors who can provide schools with access to a large variety of fruits and vegetables packaged and processed to food service specifications, with low seasonal variability (Izumi et al. 2010a) Rising costs also have increased pressure on school districts to contract private foodservice management companies (Ralston et al. 2008) The relatively bigger size of these companies provides them with greater purchasing power to procure foods. Many also reduce costs by providi ng lower benefit levels to their employees than those provided to employees of no profit school meal providers (Ralston et al. 2008) Waste Management Plate waste is a direct measure of efficiency of program operations that has been used in a number of stu dies (Buzby and Guthrie 2002; Ralston et al. 2008) Plate waste is defined in the works of Buzby as the quantity of edible portions of food served that is


62 uneaten and is a common reason for food loss at the consumer and foodservice levels (Buzby and Guthrie 2002) The US Economic Research Service (ERS) to review the literature on plate waste in NSLP to determine the level of plate waste, factors that contribute to plate waste and strategies that may reduce waste (Buzby and Guthrie 2002) Based on this review, the ERS indicates that approximately 12 % of calories from food served to students in the NSLP go uneaten (Buzby and Guthrie 2002) Because fruits and vegetables are among the foods most likely to be wasted by students, efforts to decrease plate waste have included combinations of nutrition education as well as improved food presentation. USDA recognized also that lunch periods that are relatively short result in higher plate waste, as do lunch periods schedule d too early or too late (Buzby and Guthrie 2002) USDA school meal regulations try to increase offering flexibility as a measure to reduce ch include some but not all the required food components (Ralston et al. 2008) USDA also allows children to serve themselves and schools to tailor portion sizes to appetites and needs more closely, which may help reduce plate waste (Ralston et al. 2008) Finally the implementation of other measures, such as composting and environmental education, is left to individual schools. Professional Development In the United States there is not a unified federal program that fosters the professional development of s For instance, USDA recommends setting educational standards for the nutrition personnel ; however a lack of education standards for school food service directors or managers has been observed in several schools (Ralsto n et al. 2008) Reported levels of education vary


63 from advanced degrees to less than a high school education (Ralston et al. 2008) Appropriate educational standards are needed to ensure that school boards understand the nutrition and health issues associa ted with competitive foods. Such standards are also necessary to handle the varied responsibilities of the job, for instance dealing with administration and the communi ty, and being included as a full partner in the education process (Ralston et al. 2008) Students instead, are involved into professional development activities through other programs such as the Farm to School and The Chefs Move to Schools. The latter i s a program administered by US Department of Agriculture, that helps chefs find interested schools in their communities: together they can create healthy meals that nutriti on and making balanced and healthy choices. The Farm to School program support initiatives which include: school food service staff trainings, student educational activities, and the establishment of small processing facilities (USDA Farm to School Team 20 10) Moreover, within the Farm to School program, the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI) has developed a number of culinary and nutrition trainings that are currently available for school food service employees (USDA Farm to School Team 201 0) For instance, Culinary Techniques for Healthy School Meals is a series of modules de s igned to support school food service staff prepare healthier school meals, and Cooking Green Across America incorporates economical methods of food preparation with an emphasis on seasonal, local farm products, as well as using USDA commodity foods (USDA 2011)


64 In conclusion, there is a huge potential for the professional development of students and school staff if these educational activities are properly managed and i ntegrated into Marketing and C ommunications The NSLP and the Farm to School are not the only forces affecting school lunch programs in the United States. Many institutions are inviting large corporations to help feed children and to br ing revenue into schools. Due to financial restrictions, school cafeterias are forced to cut costs and reduce labor to bring revenue into schools to cover operating costs. Several studies have shown that foods heavily marketed to school children are predom inantly high in sugar and fat (Story and French 2004) being in contrast with healthy eating recommendations for children. The regulation of the marketing of these nutrient poor foods is one of the policy measures most frequently proposed to address overwe ight and obesity in young people (Hawkes 2004) In the US several state legislatures have introduced provisions to limit food marketing, and parent and support groups are demanding to prohibit food marketing in schools (Nestle 2006) Such actions will prob ably not eliminate childhood obesity, but they may help to slow current trends. Farm To School Farm to School programs are highly assorted, presenting a vast array of activities which can include seasonal events such as harvest festivals and continuous pr ograms such as school gardens. However, the main feature of Farm to School programs in the United States is the effort to connect regional producers into school food programs to provide benefits to all the participants involved. (Allen and Guthman 2006)


65 In a school food system that adopted this approach, the institutions in the education sector would be able to buy a significant amount of the food they serve sourcing directly from local farmers. Schools and universities would thus turn into a new and access ible market for those regional farmers. The school food service is, indeed, a potentially profitable market for farmers, with more than 30 million school meals served to students each day, and counting on a commodity federal support that reached 6.1 billio n of dollars in the year 2000 (Food and Nutrition Service 2010) These initiatives have the possibility to grow into one of the most important social movements in the United States as Farm to School programs foster the development of more sustainable food chains and contribute to reconnect communities to the regional producers. Farm to School programs give emphasis to sustainable use of local resources, and to create links between food and its area of production. In a broader sense, the aim of this kind of policies is to connect public procurement chain with local agriculture (Izumi et al. 2009; Watts et al. 2005) In the Farm to School approach local producers would benefit from increased sales to regional institutional buyers obtaining also a higher dollar value of each item sold. Moreover, consumers could enjoy more nutritious and appealing meals with the inclusion of fresh, local ingredients. Healthier school food services can also contribute in addressing alimentary issues related to obesity, diabetes, a nd other nutritional problems that have been rising in many developed countries, especially in the United States. (Vallianatos et al. 2004) There is also an educational component that can be highly beneficial to schools, particularly in the areas of nutrit ion and agriculture. Farm to School


66 to farms, purchasing at farmers markets, school visits by farmers, and the creation of school vegetable gardens (e.g. Edible Schoolyard s) where students can participate in all the cycle of production, from growing to process and consume their own food. These by that includes lessons focused in science, nutr ition, and environmental issues. The educational component of Farm to School can go beyond the student and reach parents, school staff and other segment of the population increasing the awareness within the community of the importance of a proper planning of the regional food system, from production to consumption. Farm to School activities may vary from area to area according to demographic and social characteristics; however, the basic goals can be summarized in (USDA 2011) : 1. To meet the diverse needs o f school nutrition programs in an efficient manner 2. To support regional and local farmers and thereby strengthen local food systems 3. To provide support for health and nutrition education Farm to School: A Growing Movement The farm to school progra m was stimulated by two different experiences during the 1990s. The first was an initiative that took place in Florida: it was started by an USDA consultant with the aim of supporting local Afr ican American farmers by establishing a cooperative to target s chool districts as a potential market for seasonal produce (New North Florida Cooperative). The idea soon reached other nearby states, such as Georgia and North Carolina. Though some of the outcomes from that early initiative showed some problematic aspect s related to logistical and quality control issues, it represented an important step forward in considering schools as a direct marketing channel (Food and Nutrition Service 2010)


67 The second initiative was a pilot project launched in a low income school i n California. The Santa Monica school district was focused on improving the school food system and support ing local farmers. The project cons isted of a fruit and vegetable salad bar in addition to the standard hot meal offered by the school The great succ ess of this pilot initiative was one of the main drivers of the expansion of similar projects to every school in the district (Mascarenhas and Gottlieb 2008) Finally, the Santa Monica program emerged as the most popular example of the new farm to school m ovement (Vallianatos et al. 2004) From these two early initiatives, Farm to School programs started to grow in many states in North America. In December 1999 USDA, Com munity Food Security Coalition and the C enter for Food and Justice organized a workshop that became a central point in the definition of this new movement and put the basis for the development of a national network. In fact, after the year 2000 many workshops and technical assistance meetings were organized bringing together school food serv ice staff, parents and farmers. As shown by Figure 4 1 since the 1990s, Farm to School initiatives have grown quickly in the United States; In 2002 at least 400 school districts in more than twenty states were purchasing food from local farmers, providing fresh food to more than a half million students each day (USDA 2011) From only a limited number of projects in the mid nineties, there are now over 2,000 programs in more than 40 states that deliver fresh products from local farms into school meals. The success of these initiatives reflects a diversity of factors that supported the movement, including concerns related to juvenile obesity, rise in diabetes


68 rates and growing interest in local foods. To continue to grow, Farm to School programs must find way s to further develop their delivery systems (Markley et al. 2010) The previously mentioned numbers do not include other educational farm school initiatives or school gardens programs that often serve as a prelude to a complete school lunch based initiat ive. A number of new Farm to School policy initiatives at the state and federal levels have been introduced; in the following section the reader can find more information on this aspect. Key impacts of Farm to School Farm to School marketing initiatives typically yield concrete benefits to everyone involved in the program (Joshi and Beery 2007) : schoolchildren can incorporate a greater volume and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into their diets, local school districts can obtain products packed to meet their exact specifications without having to pay for long distance transportation and handling costs, and local growers gain an additional source of farm based income. Currently, these programs are designed to increase the quantity of food that school s obtain from regional farms. These initiatives are also involving students in local agriculture production through the lunch programs and by implementing new educational activities (Farm to School Network 2011) Farm to School programs can be found in a m ultiplicity of forms across the US, as many states have passed their own legislatives acts aiming to nurture school food programs and allow public procurement services to source more locally grown food (Izumi et al. 2009) These efforts are increasing the number of direct relationships between schools and small family farmers; thanks to these new direct relationships the latter can benefit from school food service


69 sales and gain access to a new stable and reliable market that will return a fair price for th eir product (Izumi et al. 2010b) School food service canteens are buying a greater volume and assortment of regional fresh fruit and vegetable products, driven by the desire of food service directors and cafeteria managers to increase school meal partici pation and product acceptance, while offering students more healthful and nutritious food choices in the menus (Tropp and Olowolayemo 2000) Many schools have now increased the regular availability of fresh produce items like strawberries and watermelon. T his was made possible by the new relationships created with the local producers, which enlarged the number of local procurement opportunities, often with the logistical assistance of DoD field offices (Joshi and Azuma 2009) School districts, especially in the South, have established several collaborations with the DoD, which purchases local products with its extensive procurement programs and then allocates a quota to school food services for use in breakfasts, lunches, and snacks (Vallianatos et al. 2004) In some states, especially in the northern US not available year round, but only in the late spring and fall. To avoid this limitation other strategies have been adopted, for instance, the use of winter vegetables or cann ed fruits Benefits to Producers For producers, schools and other institutions can become a new profitable market aspect of the quality of food, often associated to fres her, tastier and safer products. Moreover, the purchase of these local products benefits local economies, helps to preserve farm land and contribute to the livelihoods of family farms (Bagdonis et al. 2009)


70 Farmer participation and sales data in Farm to S chool programs are limited. The literature shows that total annual sales for farmers ranged from $8,000 to $55,000, keeping in account that programs greatly differ in size and the number of operative sites (Joshi and Beery 2007) Sales were spread over 2 t o 27 farmers with estimated average annual sales per farmer ranging from $845 to $7,650 (Joshi et al. 2008) Sales per farmer were higher in programs where only a few farmers were involved. On average, direct sales in Farm to School programs have contribu (Joshi et al. 2008; Joshi and Beery 2007) Notwithstanding that sales volume remains low, most farmers were initially enthusiastic about Farm to School programs and even conducted farm tours or classroom educational activiti es (Ohmart 2002) These efforts can be seen as a strategy to create cooperation between the educational institutions, agriculture, and community. For instance, involvement in Farm to School programs can mers such as parents, teachers, and community members and to other institutions such as colleges and hospitals. Farm to School and growth of community based agriculture and fo od production activities that not only meet consumer demands for fresh, safe and locally produced food but create jobs, encourage entrepreneurship, and strengthen community identity (Lyson 2004)


71 Figure 4 1. Number of Farm to School programs in the United States 1996 2010 data: USDA Farm to School. In: Farm to School Web Page. 1996 2002 2006 2010 number of programs 2 400 1000 2000 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 Years Number of Farm to School Programs


72 CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS: ITALY Evaluation of t he Food System From the previous discussion we have seen that implement ing a school meal procurement system is a difficult task. Improving the quality of school meals requires the involvement of many actors from the community and demands technical, logistical, organizational, financial, admin istrative, and cultural changes (S pigarolo 2010) In spite of all these challenges, Italy performs very well in comparison to other European countries: it serves school food of high quality especially with regard to the ingredients included in the meals (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) As it wi ll be explained later, some scholars took an extensive interpretation of the Italian Constitution, and defined school (Ruffolo 2001) Italy started having experiences with sch ool canteens more than 120 years ago: since the beginning of school food programs up to the 1970s, school meals played a social role by ensuring sufficient food for all (Bocchi et al. 2008) A second phase started in the 1980s, when questions of hygiene an d nutritional value of meals were brought by the public to the attention of policy makers. Since then, school lunch menus had to comply with more complex nutritional and hygienic standards. A third phase characterized the 1990s, with the discussion on sch food quality. In that period, Italian policy makers had reflected on the definition of product origin and sustainable production methods. The recognition of the importance of these topics has also been a cornerstone for the introduction of local and organic foods


73 (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) Also, in Italy and in several other European countries, more attention was given to issues related to food safety, health and obesity (Sonnino and Mar sden 2006) Due to this public pressure, Italian school food system has been changing: there has been an increased integration of public canteens with national production and with traditional food culture (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) For instance, procuremen t from organic and local producers is seen by the public as a way to increase sustainability (Bocchi et al. 2008) As a consequence, the government developed a regulatory framework that explicitly encourages procurement systems that prioritize local and or ganic foods in public sector catering (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) For this reason, Italy is one of the few countries that show a stronger commitment to design a more sustainable school meal service. In order to reform public procurement system, local and na tional administrations took a broader view of the food chain and adjusted production and consumption to the local context. In the Italian public procurement system, local consumers learned how to appreciate the benefits of health and locally produced food (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) In the following sections the reader will find a deeper analysis of the main features of Food and Health The link between local food, nutritional issues and school lu nch policies was established in 1999, when the Italian Government issued Finance Law 488. As it has been pointed out, this law came in response to an increased public concern for healthy eating, and it guaranteed the promotion of regionally sourced, organi c, and nutritionally balanced food products in schools and other institutions which operate public canteens (Harper et al. 2008)


74 In Italy, about 20% of children and teenagers in the age category of 6 17 years are overweight, and 4% of them are obese (Gar giulo et al. 2002) The efforts to improve nutritional habits of Italians started in the late 1980s when the government began to promote in the schools the Mediterranean diet, which is richer in fruits and vegetables than the European average. Table 5 1 sh ows the main nutritional components of the Mediterranean diet in comparison with the European average. To guarantee the promotion of healthier diet habits, public institutions that operate school and hospital canteens provide in the daily meal nutritionall y balanced, typical and traditional products following the recommendations given by the National Institute for Nutrition in its Guidelines for a Healthy Italian Diet The process of designing the meals, as it will be explained in the next sections, can inv olve several actors in the community, including teachers, parents and students. Then as a final step, the menus are checked From a legislative point of view, in Italy there are several provisions in the Constitution that support the right of children to have access to healthy school meals (Morgan and Sonnino 2010; Ruffolo 2001) The most important are Article 32, which underlines the fundamental right to health to which each ind ividual is entitled and Article 2 that states the The Italian Constitution expresses also a legal commitment to promote cultural and territorial development and to protect children both as f amily members (Articles 9, 29 31) and as members of social communities such as schools (Article 33, 34 and 37). Moreover, the State will also foster the valorization of local autonomies and the devolution of decision making powers (Articles 5 and 114). In conclusion it is


75 reasonable to state that, thanks to this legislative foundation, the Italian model of public procurement integrates the nutritional dimension of the food served in schools with educational purposes and contribute to the valorization of It alian culture and support of the local economy. School meals can provide children with a sound food education, compatible with the specific culture of their territory, and help them develop their individual personalities (Ruffolo 2001) Another important piece of legislation is Law 281, issued in 1998, on the protection cultural development and specifies that the right to health includes all aspects related to individua l growth and development, setting high standards for products and services destined to be consumed by children (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) Moreover, Law 281 contains a provision on the importance of educating citizens to healthy and sustainable consumption and to local cultural traditions (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) In sum, it is possible to say that in Italy there is a relatively high degree of political support about the improvement of quality of food in school canteens, and all national parties agree with this goal (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) Local Policy Framework The regulatory framework for the Italian food school system is composed of a patchwork of general rules and principles on the national level, guidelines for school meals decided by the regions, a nd implementation at the municipal level (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) In this regulatory environment, there are few sanctions for non compliance with national and regional guidelines; thus, the local municipalities interpret the guidelines and are relativel y autonomous to establish their own regulations and standards. For this reason, local municipalities can be seen as the main actors


76 responsible for public school meals. In total, municipalities manage meals for about 85% of all schools attended by children from 1 to 13 years (Spigarolo 2010) The autonomy given to local municipalities allows them to decide if they want to directly control and manage the meal systems, or outsource the task to private catering companies (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) Some muni cipalities have decided to create a company to manage the meal system: this company can be entirely public or partly privatized. However, municipalities remain responsible to manage financial concerns, covering all the costs for school catering services an d deciding how to distribute these costs (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) The participati on of the community in defining the local policy framework for school lunch programs is one of the key elements for a successful and sustainable outcome (Joshi and Beery 2 007; Stone et al. 2010) In Italy, the local governance of the school food system is ensured by appointing a Commissione Mensa, or Canteen Commission. The Commissione Mensa is a representative body that directly communicates with the public administration. It was designed by a national law that allows each school to create their own commission to monitor and evaluate of the quality of the school meal service. The results of the monitoring process are then given to a nutritionist, appointed by the municipali ty, who is responsible for dealing with any problem parents identify (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) In this way, the Commissione Mensa provides the opportunity for parents to be involved, in cooperation with school councils and food suppliers, on how the menus should be prepared and distributed. Moreover, the Commissione Mensa may also influence the public administration with respect to the compliance to guidelines and contracts, intervening on the procurement policy, the


77 quality of food, the size of portions a nd the quality of the service (Spigarolo 2010) It has been estimated that, in 2008, more than 80% of Italian schools decided to appoint a Commissione Mensa (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) Teaching and L earning The possibility of using the school meals as a wa y of teaching the students about food and health seems to be an important aim in Italy (Bocchi et al. 2008; Gramigni 2008; Morgan and Sonnino 2010; Spigarolo 2010) It is one of the stated objectives of the Italian school meal systems to educate the studen ts and the community about the importance of a healthy diet, considering also the impact of food on the environment and the necessity of empowering the new generations to b ecome aware consumers. However, these objectives are not directly connected to the f ood served at the schools. (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) In fact, only about 30% of the municipalities inform children and parents about the use of local or organic food and less than 10% of the schools have educational programs related to local or organic agr iculture (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) The mandatory educational activities, stated by the local and national regulations focus on environment and nutrition, but in practice these activities are almost always focus only on nutritional issues. Therefore, eve n if the Italian policy frameworks include provisions that state the necessity of education about sustainable consumption, this is not actively taught in many schools (Spigarolo 2010) However, as has been highlighted before, since the 1990s, the Italian g ov ernment has been supportive of the idea that school meals are related to the local food culture and to the knowledge of the territory (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) One example of this effort is an educational program called Cultura che Nutre, or Culture tha t Feeds. Launched in 1998 by the Ministry of Agriculture, the program educates school children


78 to adopt a healthy diet through the implementation of school initiatives that emphasize the values of seasonality and territoriality in the context of food produ ction and consumption (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) A similar example is a program launched in involve children in the various stages of the food chain. In conclusion, it is possible to state that there is a clear effort from the Italian government to actively support the development of s chool meal systems that create knowledgeable young consumers, who are aware of the environmental impacts of food and able to follow a n utritionally balanced diet. The Councilor for Education confirmed this in an interview: the school provides a context to promote cultural, healthy and solidarity based habits that are important for the welfare of the entire community (Morgan and Sonnino 20 10) However, teachers and parents should actively support these ideas at the local level to allow effective implementations of the national regulations into the daily activities of schools. The Dining E xperience and F acilities In 2008, Slow Food Italy con ducted a national survey to assess the state of the Italian school food system (Gramigni 2008) Its report showed that Italian schools rely on facilities that vary from large central kitchens delivering thousands of meals to several canteens, to small dece ntralized kitchens located at the school. The school lunchtime and the facilities for eating are integrated into the daily school routines; students have lunch in a dining hall inside of the school (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) Students usually sit down at r ound tables, with table cloths, crockery and silverware, where they are served a three course meal (Harper et al. 2008) Meals were found to be mostly comprised of three courses and menus were arranged based on the


79 summer and winter seasons. In most of the cases special meals are provided for students who cannot eat certain food products for religious, ideological or medical reasons (Gramigni 2008) Teachers, in 88% of the cases, sit and eat with the students but do not always engage them in food and nutrit ion related educational activities (Gramigni 2008) This is despite the fact that 62% of the municipalities issued regulations that mandate the implementation of educational activities on nutrition and environmental issues (Gramigni 2008) Only 5% of th e interviews conducted by the Slow Food survey reported inadequate facilities for the school lunch; however, only 38% of the meals providers have a monitoring system in place to assess the condition of the facilities and to schedule improvements. One of th e most highlighted problems with the facilities was the noise level: to solve this problem, about 7% of the meal service providers adopted acoustical materials designed for the purpose of absorbing sound that might otherwise be reflected in the dining envi ronment. The main issues, however, arise from the criterion adopted in the design of the school lunch facilities: the dining spaces are designed to allow an easy management of the meal service, without taking into account its educational function. Moreover the l ack of financial resources and recent cuts in the budgets of educational institutions leaves Italian schools with structural problems that seem difficult to overcome (Bocchi et al. 2008; Gramigni 2008) Procurement The content of previous sections s hows how the Italian regulatory and cultural context explicitly encourages the implementation of pro active policies that prioritize local and organic foods (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) Italy is showing clear signs of


80 commitment to design a more sustainable school meal service, which is defined as a service that delivers fresh and nutritious food and seeks to procure the food as locally and as seasonally as possible (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) In the Italian case, the meal system is well established, with a h ighly decentralized and organized school meal procurement protocol, managed by local actors appointed at the municipal level. Since the 1990s, the use of local and organic products for school canteens has been promoted by lawmakers both at the national and regional level (Bocchi et al. 2008) Reportedly, in the period from 1999 onwards, regional regulations were issued with the aim of fostering the use of local and organic food in public procurement (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) These laws allowed municipalit ies to establish sustainable catering systems in school canteens. For instance, in 2004 the city of Rome introduced an organic, traditional and fair trade food procurement system, serving more than 140,000 school meals per day (Sonnino 2009) From a legis lative point of view, one of the main barriers to achieving a more sustainable and localized food system comes from the EU regulatory framework with its principle of non discrimination (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) This principle, stated in the Treaty of Rome mandates that public contracts cannot be awarded based on the geography of the auction goer, to avoid discrimination on the basis of nationality. This principle might hinder the transition towards more localized food procurement, as it applies to all pub lic contracts, regardless of size. However, in 1999 the EU Council of Ministers endorsed local authorities to take production methods into consideration when assigning a contract (Morgan and Sonnino 2007) In this way, local municipalities are


81 allowed to i ntroduce environmental criteria for choosing a meal provider, instead of basing decision predominantly on cost. As it has been explained before, Italian regulations allow contractors to maintain complete control over the service, because school meals are s een as part of a much broader educational project supervised by the schools. For this reason, local authorities are entitled to modify the agreed conditions of the service in case changes are rvice does not conform to the educational and cultural parameters indicated in the original contract (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) In this way, local municipalities have the right to monitor the catering service and also to assess if the meals provided are co nsistent with the educational mission of the school. As stated before, when assigning a public catering contract, local municipalities have the possibility of discriminating in favor of local companies. This is because the national regulations state that school meals are also a way of conserving local traditions, allowing schools to source locally in order to teach children about the nutritional values and characteristic of local food items (Ruffolo 2001) Finances Many children in Italy stay for a school lunch and the meal is seen as a central part of their education about Italian food culture, local traditions and healthy nutrition (Harper et al. 2008; Spigarolo 2010) To support this decentralized system, local administrations are appointed as the main a ctors responsible for the implementation of school meal systems, and have to manage the fin ancial aspects of these systems Local officials of the municipality are in charge of developing and managing the catering contracts, following the guidelines given by the national and regional laws and suggestions coming from parents and teachers involved in the Commissione Mensa. Despite of the


82 involvement of the municipalities, the school meal system is almost entirely privatized: in 70% of the schools there are pr ivate catering companies employing the staff needed to prepare and serve meals in publicly owned facilities (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) In the current system, families pay according to their income and another share of the costs, usually between 10 and 30 %, is paid directly by the municipalities (Harper et al. 2008; Nielsen and Nlting 2009) National regulations state that low income families pay less than 50% of the total cost, whereas families with a medium or higher income are not entitled to any disco unt (Harper et al. 2008) However, when more than one child attends a school, families receive an additional 20% discount. (Harper et al. 2008) Waste Management One of the biggest challenges in relation to school food is the problem of reducing waste prod uced by school canteens. When considering plate waste, several studies reported that in many schools this represents ove r 40% of the total food served (Nielsen and Nlting 2009) Moreover, looking at the data on the type of crockery and plates used in Ital y, it is possible to see that about 45% of schools make use of the plastic disp osable kind, which contributes increased waste (Gramigni 2008) Moreover, only 12% of the surveyed schools are equipped with reusable dishes, mostly because they lack facilities with washing points. More than a third of schools surveyed by Slow Food had established a system to assess the amount of waste produced in the schools. This is done by weighing the waste or by collection of data on visual impressions of the waste left on plates. Most of the schools, about 74%, have a waste recycling system, and of these about 26% are composting part of the waste. Approximately 26% of schools do not differentiate or recycle the waste (Gramigni 2008)


83 In general, all the municipalities that consider waste management important try to introduce in the public procurement system a number of environmental friendly practices. The main obstacles to do this are connected to the lack of financial resources necessary to change the current situation, s uch as the la ck of infrastructure to manage wast e better, ,but also a mind set that considers sustainability as an additional cost, and not, as it should be, a benefit for the community (Gramigni 2008) Professional D evelopment As noted in the previous sec tion, the Italian school meal system is regarded by the national policy framework as a system of social learning: it involves not only students but also parents, teachers and possibly a bigger part of the community. For instance, Cultura che N process of linking food production to the activities that are done in the classroom. Several areas are included in this program, including cooking, nutrition and life style, Italian farming practi ces and food quality and, finally, the Italian diet and food culture (Morgan and Sonnino 2010) These kinds of educational programs are active in 62% of the schools. In 50% of cases the educational activities are devoted only to students, in about 21% of c ases are addressed to teachers, and 21% involve also families (Gramigni 2008) the professional training and support they need to offer meals featuring fresh and local food and to teac h students about the relationship between food, health, and the environment. Marketing and C ommunications There has been an increasing attention to the problems related to food advertisement to children and unhealthy habits. For instance, in 2004 with the new


84 Radio and TV Law (112/2004), Italy became the first European country to legally prohibit the use of children under the age of 14 years in television advertisements. Despite the passage of this law, and protests by NGOs that it was frequently breached, the Italian Advertisers Association lobbied hard against it, until in the same year three laws were proposed to repeal the prohibition (Hawkes 2004) However, the (Institute of Advertisement Self Regulation) rele ased a revised version of their guidelines, adding two provisions on food advertising to children: advertising must not induce children and adolescents to d ownplay the role of parents and educators who supply healthy nutritional advice, nor encourage child ren to adopt poor eating habits or neglect the need for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, other organizations such as the Italian Pediatricians Association and the Movimento per la Difesa del Cittadino (Coalition for the Defence of the Citizen), called for restrictions on TV food advertising. Also, the Observatory on the Image of Minors released a report concluding that too many television commercials in Italy advertise nutritionally poor food items and contribute to distorting children's eating habits. Many (Service Card). It is a document prepared by catering provider, which describes all the aspects of the service. When it exists, the Service Card has the potential to become an import ant communication t tool between administration and users. However, only 28.6% of the surveyed local administrations have adopted this tool (Gramigni 2008) It is clear that the school meal system has far fewer resources than a private food company.


85 Howeve r, policy makers have to provide tools to support schools in promoting healthy eating habits and limit the marketing of nutritionally poor food items. In sum, Italia n public catering system is widespread between children from 1 to 13 years, serving more th an 4 million of meals per day (Spigarolo 2010) Several stakeholders and all the political parties in t he government gave full recognition to the importance of fostering the consumption of local and organic food products and to ensure a balanced nutrition to Italian children. In fact, most of the Italian Regions issued specific laws and guidelines to support schools and local municipalities in the development of a more sustainable school catering system that is able to source local, fresh and nut ritionally balanced food items. In Italy, municipalities and parents have direct mechanism s of control on the school meal system (e.g. Commissione Mensa) which allowed them to introduce more organic and traditional foods in menu and to control if the mandat ory requirements are met However, Italian public catering system presents also some critical points. For instance, the necessity of reducing the amount of waste produced, which in term of plate residuals, can reach up to 40% of the food served. Moreover, it has been reported that in the current system food represent only 30% of total meal cost, while the cost of transportation, personnel and the other administrative costs take a share of about 70%. A more efficient supply chain, the reduction of waste and the involvement of students in the preparation of meals can contribute in lowering the non food costs. In order to achieve further improvements, a control mechanism could be put in place to check if schools and municipalities are complying with national an d regional legislations.


86 Table 5 1. Average food consumption in Italy: the Mediterranean components of the on report. Food Items Italy EU Var It/EU Bread, pasta and processed cereals 120 81 +48% Vegetables 176 116 +52% Fruit 124 93 +33% Milk 61 110 45% Pork 30 42 29% Beef 23 19 +21% Poultry 19 20 5%


87 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUDING REMARKS Schools a nd Publi c Procurement Policies Schools around the world have attempted to make changes to the food served in their canteens and to educate children to become aware of the impacts of their food choices on their health, on the environment and on society. As it has b een examined in this thesis, in US and Italy these changes involved many aspects, such as improving the nutritional quality of foods served in school and reducing the presence of foods with poor nutritional value. However, these changes to school food have often been limited provide a better education regarding the connections between food, health and the state of the environment. Policy makers in the US ad in Italy could make a significant contribution to this process by developing a comprehensive policy framework that aims to empower young students to become aware and responsible adults. To conclude this thesis, in the following sections the analysis will focus on the ke y similarities and differences of the food school model in Italy and in the United States. A final section will provide some general recommendations on how to improve the policy frameworks that regulate public procurement, especially in schools aiming towa rds a more sustainable model. Key Similarities when Comparing School Meals in Italy and United States A copious body of evidence has been produced to support the fact that both countries are experiencing an escalating problem with childhood obesity. Govern ments and other institutions have developed regulations and initiatives to stop this trend. For this reason, both countries follow national nutritional guidelines and menu planning procedures that


88 provide the framework for the amounts and types of food off ered to children, considering a nutritional profile developed by nutritionists and pediatricians. The planned menus are offered by each country two times during the school day. In Italy, all children eat the meals provided by schools. In the US, about 95% of public schools participate in the National School Lunch Program and even if the participation is not mandatory as in Italy, approximately 31.6 million children participated in the 2009 2010 school year (USDA Healthy Meals Resource System 2011) Both It aly and US have involved in the process actors coming from a variety of disciplines, such as public health, law, culinary arts, and anti hunger and envir onmental activists, all of whom concerns are directed toward various elements such as the degree of processing, food safety, pesticides, amounts of fat and added sugars, the meaning of organic, regionally potential of public procurement to make a difference in the way Italy and the US produce and distribute food. Key Differences when Comparing School Meals in Italy and United States The contracting model in the two countries is fundamentally different. In I taly, contracts are made with many small food companies, especially in the case of Rome, where each company is responsible for one of the elements needed in the schools to feed children, for instance food, labor, infrastructure and equipment. In contrast, districts operate their own school meals program, and several contract the service to a single, large food management company. Another difference is related to the criteria used to select the contracting company. In the US, schools use the lowest cost criterion in an effort to operate within the constraints of federal reimbursement levels. As it has


89 been presented in C hapter 4, this approach has led to a number of problems, including questions about the quality of the food served. In Italy a nd in the EU in general, the lowest cost approach has been replaced with the best value one, which is considering a and infrastructure needs. As was highlighted in C hapte r 5, Italian government policy strongly supports locally grown foods for public procurement. Conversely, the US federal regulations on public procurement prohibit the geographical preferences criteria for sourcing. Conclusions and Recommendations From the analysis th at has been carried out in the C hapters 4 and 5, seems that Italy and United States have noticeable gaps in most of the criteria evaluated. There is, however, a positive trend indicated by numerous initiatives, programs and regulations, coming f rom government and NGOs, which are supporting schools in the process of re designing their lunch systems. In this final section there is a list of possible areas of improvement, to transform lunch school lunch programs into an effective system of social le arning. In order to improve the outcomes of these programs, the age span should be broadened: often eating habits worsen as children move into adolescence and school lunch programs could be available also to students in middle and high schools. Continued l earning opportunities and availability of healthy food options can help to prevent obesity and unhealthy habits. Lunch programs should sustain an integrated approach and continue to create synergies between school food, environment and development of pract ical and professional skills, such as cooking, gardening, marketing and waste management. To


90 help this, governments can further develop curriculum integration with core subjects and hire staff to support these new educational activities. Linking teaching a nd learning in the classroom to healthy and sustainable food in the school lunch programs will help students develop healthier dietary habits. It will also lead to a more sustainable future for generations to come. A school that offers fresh and nutritious food should also leave an adequate amount of time to consume it, and composting kitchen waste represents a virtuous model compared to a school that sells junk food and sends waste to the landfill. The involvement of the local community can be the key fact or in obtaining a successful lunch program. Moreover, the educational outcomes can be beneficial for the whole community. Policy makers could add a program component to reach parents and other community members. Creating long term reform is strictly connec ted to the actions of those inside the formal structure of the school; however innovations must have the support of stakeholders throughout the community. school lunch progra m is often lacking. For instance, students who contribute to choosing the food that is served or who take an active part in preparing meals are more likely to participate in the school lunch program. Moreover, involving students in waste management activit awareness of their responsibility in environmental conservation. Finally, it is important to remember that students learn more if engaged in active participation than by passively listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. The governments of both countries should set challenging targets to improve the sustainability and nutritional value of school meals, providing food of better quality and


91 follow seasonality, with increasing propor tions of fresh, Integrated Farm Management and organic products. The progress toward these targets should be constantly monitored and information about it made available to the public, especially parents and teachers as point of reference for measuring sch ool meal performance. To support further progress towards these targets, policy makers should continue developing educational programs, such as promotional events, farm visits, cooking classes and Finally, sustainable public procurement should go beyond schools, and be promoted also in hospitals, prisons and all public institutions.


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100 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Mr. Fil ies at the University of Padova, Italy in 2009. In the same year he was awarded with a two years scholarship funde d by the Atlantis Program to attend the Double Degree in Rural Development and Agricultural Economics. During the two ye ars, Mr. Simonato attended his m carried on his research act ivities at the University of Ghent in Belgium, the Humbol dt University in Berlin Germany the Uni versity of Pisa in Italy, and the University of Florida in the United States. In 2012 he successfully completed the program obtaining the International Master of Science in Rural Development and the Master of Scien ce in Food and Resource Economics.