Innovating food assistance practices towards food and nutrition security

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Prominentenzimmer (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sabrina ARCURI, University of Pisa, Italy
Francesca GALLI, University of Pisa, Italy
Stefano GRANDO, University of Pisa, Italy
Fabio BARTOLINI, University of Pisa, Italy
Gianluca BRUNORI, University of Pisa, Italy
In recent years, severe challenges related to crisis, unemployment, immigration and political instability are affecting food and nutrition security. In this context of change, a growing number of people seek for food assistance, increasingly often in high income countries (Lambie-Mumford, Dowler, 2015). Different actors are trying to respond to the emergency faced by the most vulnerable groups of the population, and at the same time are under pressure to reframe food assistance in a "right to food" frame. Operators involved in food assistance activities are re-thinking their role to address changing needs; private companies are increasingly involved in food assistance operations and adjust their operations and their strategies accordingly; public institutions re-think the boundaries between charitable assistance, welfare system and market-based food system. The present study explores the food assistance mechanisms through the lens of social practices intended as “routinized types of behaviour which consists of several elements, interconnected to one other” (Reckwitz, 2002). Constitutive elements are represented by meanings, materials and rules. We aim at identifying and mapping practices and investigate their innovation potential or, alternatively, their tendency to disappear. Innovation in practices occurs by changing or introducing new elements and/or by establishing new links between them (Shove and Pantzar, 2010). We adopt a case study approach to illustrate food assistance in Tuscany (Italy) by integrating semi-structured interviews, on-site visits and primary data collection to scenario analysis dedicated workshops. Results show that encouraging responsibilities on food choices, including upstream actors of the food system (e.g. farmers), addressing “nutritional” needs and diminishing stigmatization are the key innovations in food assistance. Context specific innovative solutions and synergies among practices need to be implemented to trigger successful pathways of innovation.