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Learning from Brazil

On the 6th May The Food Foundation launched a policy briefing which highlighted new UN data on the levels of food insecurity in the UK.  The Food Foundation is urging the Government to commit to annual household food insecurity measures as part of a widertargeted package, to improve the life chances of those UK women and children most at risk of poor diet and food insecurity.  This targeted package was presented to parliamentarians, NGOs and Government at an event in Parliament on 13th April which was focused on what the UK could announce at the forthcoming Nutrition4Growth summit which will take place in the margins of the Rio Olympics.

During the event Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development stated the importance of an on-going relationship between Brazil and the UK; a relationship established when the UK government, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and the Government of Brazil co-hosted the Nutrition4Growth (N4G) summit 2013, where commitments were secured to tackle global undernutrition.  Since then the international 2030 Agenda was set for Sustainable Development.  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are for all countries rich and poor and provide a framework for national action and international corporation.

An ongoing relationship between the UK and Brazil will provide an excellent learning opportunity for both countries on food policy issues.  While food insecurity levels are worryingly high in the UK, Brazil has demonstrated great leadership in tackling hunger and has developed strong public policies to ensure access to healthy food. Brazil’s Zero Hunger programme launched in 2001 was based on the right to food and helped low-income families access healthy food through community restaurants, school feeding programmes and financial support for small-scale farmers.  For example in 2009 a law was passed that requires 30% of the national Brazilian budget for food served in school meals to be spent procuring food from family farms.   Below are more examples of Brazil’s strong leadership and cross Government public policies in tackling hunger and food insecurity.

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Brazil can also benefit from this learning opportunity.  Both countries are faced with the growing challenge of obesity and the UK’s world-class National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) assesses overweight and obesity levels in children within primary schools.  We also have the National Diet and Nutrition Survey that regularly tracks shifts in dietary intake in the UK.  Both will help shape the forthcoming Childhood Obesity Strategy which Jeremy Hunt has described as  “game-changing”.  If it lives up to this expectation, many countries of the world, including Brazil, will be looking to learn from the UK’s experience.

What might a learning network look like in practice?  In October 2015 Brazilian Minister Milton Rondó, Director of the General Coordination of International Actions Against Hunger (CGFome) visited London to discuss the N4G summit and the Food Foundation took the opportunity to show the Minister the Community Shop in Lambeth, the Food Flagship Borough of London.  The Community Shop is a social enterprise offering surplus food at discounted prices and a suite of supportive courses to individuals on income support.  Minister Rondó received a tour of the shop and heard from the Regional Manager on the extensive ways in which the shop’s business model helps support those struggling to put food on the table.  Minister Rondó’s response included an intention to replicate a network of similar shops in Brazil.  Further comments on his experience below:

 

The learning opportunities between Brazil and the UK are significant and a continued relationship, building on the leadership demonstrated at the N4G, shows potential for a more global exchange.  The Food Foundation is working with UK Parliamentarians and the Brazilian Government to support the formation of a Global Parliamentary Network on Food and Nutrition Security.  The aim is for the network to create space for sharing of best practice amongst food and nutrition policy makers and influencers and to discuss and exchange experiences on how to tackle all forms malnutrition (undernutrition and hunger as well as overweight and obesity) that affect all countries around the world, rich and poor.