Urban policy : sustainable and solidarity food in neighbourhoods

March 2018

Réseau des collectivités Territoriales pour une Economie Solidaire (RTES)

Today, new solidarity-based initiatives around access to sustainable food are emerging in priority neighbourhoods in socially innovative forms and are aimed at development, spin-offs and duplication. The question of changing the scale of the social and solidarity economy is a bit in the air of time, but is it as obvious as that ? Is the issue at stake here that of changing scale or the multiplication of solidarity and socially responsible initiatives?

Three initiatives that are working towards their development are presented in this study.

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The Etats Généraux de l’Alimentation launched by the government ended in December 2017. They resulted in a government roadmap for the period 2018-2022, with the following strategic thrusts :

A bill « For the balance of trade relations in the agricultural and food sector and for healthy and sustainable food » was presented on 31 January. The measures in favour of healthy, quality and sustainable food are of particular interest to local and regional authorities: by 2022, the collective catering sector will have to be supplied with at least 50% of products from organic, local or certified organic farming. The bill also intends to tackle food wastage.

The RTES has already looked at the role of local authorities in the development of local food circuits in its paper letter No. 27. Here, the angle is that of access for all to sustainable quality food, particularly in the priority neighbourhoods of the City Policy.

Access for all to sustainable food is a challenge for food justice and public health, an economic lever for local employment and the farming sector, and an element of response to current environmental and climate problems. However, because food-related projects support the enhancement of cultural diversity and the empowerment of inhabitants, they also help to question social ties in neighbourhoods and revitalize urban areas.

SSE projects around food are historically present in priority neighbourhoods. This is evidenced by the solidarity catering association «  Cannelle & Piment  » created in Vaulx-en-Velin in 1989, or the establishment of numerous solidarity grocery stores in priority districts that aim to promote access for all to sustainable food.

Today, new solidarity initiatives around access to sustainable food are emerging in priority neighbourhoods in socially innovative forms and aim at development, spin-off, duplication.

The question of changing the scale of the social and solidarity economy is a bit in the air of time but is it that obvious? Is the issue at stake here that of changing scale or the multiplication of solidarity and socially responsible initiatives? And if so, what frameworks promote it? How can it be disseminated while respecting the specific characteristics of each territory? What are the conditions for such spin-offs and what roles can local and regional authorities play in them?

Three initiatives that work towards their development are presented in this cross-cutting section. Beyond the tools and conditions set up by the initiatives to spread, the local authorities that have supported them have participated in their development in different ways : through responsible public orders adapted to the issues mentioned above, by building a favourable ecosystem, and by taking risks by entrusting an ambitious project to an actor in the process of structuring.

The SCIC Bou’Sol : create and run a network of organic bakeries throughout France.

Bou’Sol was born in 2013 from a meeting between two entrepreneurs, Benjamin Borel and Samuel Mougin, and an integration project established in the northern districts of Marseille for more than 20 years, «  Pain et Partage ", a solidarity bakery aimed at players in the collective catering sector and operating in the form of an Integration Workshop and Site (ACI).

SCIC Bou’Sol’s mission is to ensure the emergence and animation of other solidarity bakeries « Pain et Partage » at the national level. The Bou’Sol project was made possible thanks to the structuring support of the Provence Alpes Côte-d’Azur Regional Council via its FONDEX scheme from 2011 to 2013. Bou’Sol has continued to receive strong support from the regional entity in the ramp-up phase of its activity.

As a solidarity franchise, which is part of the dynamics of the Territorial Economic Cooperation Poles (PTCE), Bou’Sol is an engineering structure that supports the «  Pain et Partage  » bakeries in their development through a range of services: advice and support to project leaders via an intervention methodology combining network expertise and territorial anchoring of project leaders, support for the structuring of local supply chains, development of management and communication tools, etc…

The bakeries «  Pain et Partage  » make their bread from organic and local flours and following artisanal bread-making methods. They also implement a learning and inclusive organization allowing the reception and professionalization of employees in integration process. There are 61 jobs, 41 of which will be in the network’s bakeries in 2017.

Today, 5 solidarity bakeries have been created on the model designed by Bou’Sol in Marseille (2 bakeries), Lyon, Montpellier and Calais, and two others are in the process of being created in Dijon and Bordeaux-Mérignac.

In Lyon, the bakery has been awarded the «  Lyon Fair & Sustainable City  » label (label of the City of Lyon aiming to democratise responsible consumption).

In the Bordeaux conurbation, the bakery project emerged at the end of 2016 and should open its doors in March 2018. Throughout the process, the « Bou’Sol » network and the local project leader (the Bordeaux intermediary association BIC) have received strong political support from various local authorities, including the New Aquitaine Regional Council, the Gironde Departmental Council, Bordeaux Métropole and the City of Mérignac, which have intervened in their respective areas of competence. These authorities played a decisive role as facilitators (networking, reflection on responsible purchasing policies, co-construction of grant application files, etc.).

This 6th Pain et Partage bakery will benefit from investment support of 200,000 euros from the Regional Council under its Urban Policy, 60,000 euros from Bordeaux Métropole under its SSE support policy and European ERDF funding of 165,000 euros.

The City of Mérignac has participated in this real teamwork by promoting its territorial implantation (search for premises, links with employment players, recruitment phases, relaying with the Citizen Council).

In addition to the role of financier and facilitator in the emergence of bakery projects, the local authorities play a major role in the development of the various solidarity bakeries «  Pain et Partage  » via the lever of responsible public procurement. This can be the case for the supply of organic bread to crèches, primary schools, middle schools or high schools, directly or through a collective catering operator (for example in Montpellier, Villeurbanne, Marseille,…). Breads from «  Pain et Partage  » bakeries are thus in a position to be selected when public procurement contracts for local authorities include weighting systems where the quality or organic supply criteria are more important (more than 50%) than the price criterion alone. The organic bread produced is also supplied to charitable or social emergency structures. In 2017, these supplies represent a total of 60,000 consumers throughout France.

In addition to the lever of responsible public procurement, local authorities can support the spread of socially innovative initiatives by building an ecosystem favourable to their development.

VRAC : the national swarming of purchasing groups between inhabitants of priority neighbourhoods.

VRAC - Vers un Réseau d’Achat Commun (Towards a Common Purchasing Network), offers the inhabitants of priority districts quality products (organic and/or local) at reasonable prices, thanks to the grouping of orders, the reduction of intermediate costs (short circuits) and superfluous costs (limitation of packaging).

The VRAC association was born in 2013 from the meeting between Boris Tavernier, who has been involved for many years in projects of democratized responsible consumption, the social landlord Est Métropole Habitat and the Abbé Pierre Foundation.

It has developed by being part of a favourable ecosystem promoted by the City of Lyon and the Greater Lyon metropolis, VRAC being labelled «  Lyon, fair and sustainable city  » and member of the Lyon Sustainable Food Council, a political instrument created by the City with about thirty SSE actors in the sector.

The City of Lyon communicates regularly on this project and provides financial support via a grant as part of its SSE policy. The city has also provided financial support (13,000 euros in 2016 as part of its Education for Sustainable Development Plan).

VRAC is also part of the actions linked to sustainable development provided for in the City Contract, and is the 2016 winner of the competition «  S’engager pour les quartiers  » co-organized by FACE and ANRU.

The association currently coordinates purchasing groups in 13 priority neighbourhoods in the Lyon metropolitan area.

In each neighbourhood, the purchasing groups rely on different partners : local authorities, social landlords, social centres, associations, etc. to enable the project to be launched and structured ; to relay information on these purchasing groups to the inhabitants ; and to provide temporary premises for taking and receiving orders.

The VRAC association has since been asked to spread these purchasing groups to other French cities and is considering the conditions for such spreading within the framework of the structuring of a national network (common reflection on the economic model, mutualisation and common suppliers, etc.). Two other BULK associations have been created, one for the Strasbourg conurbation in 2017 with 5 purchasing groups in 4 neighbourhoods, the other for the Bordeaux conurbation on the initiative of a social landlord. Each of these associations is managed by a steering committee made up of residents from the different neighbourhoods where the purchasing groups are located.

In Strasbourg, a meeting of the ESS Council with Boris Tavernier from 2015, organised by the City, the Eurometropole and the CRESS, encouraged the networking of the VRAC project. The experimentation phase of the VRAC Strasbourg Eurométropole association was supported by a social centre in the city, providing an administrative framework for the start-up of the association and enabling the hiring of a development officer. The City of Strasbourg financially supported the association in its structuring phase and integrated VRAC in a communication campaign to disseminate information to the inhabitants.

SCIC Bou’Sol and the VRAC association in Lyon were both recognised as 2017 winners of the MACIF Foundation and Avise’s PIN’S call for projects, which aims to support socially innovative projects in their replication strategy.

Beyond a replication strategy, the scaling up of socially innovative initiatives can also be part of a local development project.

Food2rue : from a culinary integration incubator to the management of a solidarity food hall.

Alongside the PTCE Resto Passerelle, a network of social restaurants in the Paris region, new projects for solidarity-based culinary incubators are emerging, such as Food2Rue in Paris, a rapidly developing structure that combines its integration incubator and its future business and employment cooperative with the management of a new solidarity-based food hall «  la Panaméenne ", installed since February 2018 in the Didot priority district (Paris 14ème).

Food2rue’s mission is to support women who are far from employment towards entrepreneurship in street kitchens and commercial catering professions. Currently, the culinary incubator employs 12 integration employees, often of foreign origin and single parents, who prepare and sell their meals during the week at the Panamanian restaurant counter (and previously at the Grands Voisins site).

In the form of an association, this integration project aims to strengthen their employability in the restaurant business and to help the project leaders to design and launch their own street cooking activity.

Some project leaders will have the opportunity to join the future Food2rue business and employment cooperative (CAE) alongside people undergoing professional retraining. This CAE will enable project leaders to become « salaried entrepreneurs » for a maximum period of 3 years.

They will thus be able to pool their general resources (marketing, communication, accounting, etc.), while a central kitchen will be made available to them for the preparation of meals. They will also have at their disposal an electric scooter for sales, a flexible and inexpensive work tool (accessible to micro-credit) and a real ecological commercial showcase.

Finally, at the end of this period, they will be able to join, as independent managers or associate entrepreneurs, the first solidarity franchise in France in the field of street cooking, which Food2rue aims to create.

The Paris City Council has placed its trust in this structure in the process of being structured to ensure the management of the solidarity food hall in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Food2rue has been selected within the framework of the City’s 2017 Participatory Budget for the management of this covered market in short circuits of 150 m², which includes a food counter, as well as a point of sale of fresh, local products at affordable prices for the inhabitants of the Didot district. Food2rue also received the honorary prize of the Parisian Trophies of the ESS 2017.

To conclude…

A network of organic bakeries, purchasing groups, culinary incubators, etc., local authorities actively support these socially innovative projects, particularly in their efforts to change scale. However, this support must not be to the detriment of the sustainability of more traditional players, such as neighbourhood associations or social centres. A logic of complementarity should be sought between support for traditional actors and the development of new projects. All the more so as these more traditional structures constitute an indispensable fabric for the emergence and success of such innovative projects, as the speakers at the RTES online conference «  Initiatives for accessible sustainable food  » on 6 February 2018 testified.



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