In December 2009, the Minister for the Environment signed the Waste Management (Food Waste) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No 508 of 2009). These regulations were enforced July 1, 2010 and required all major sources of food waste to be placed into dedicated bins and to ensure that it was not mixed with other waste. As per these regulations, a brown bin collection service must be used so that the collected food waste is subsequently recycled by composting or by other approved recycling processes.
The Cork Food Policy Council stemmed from these regulations, explained by Denise Cahill, Healthy Cities Coordinator in a YouTube video. She stated that they “had a fabulously successful launch of the Cork Food Policy Council on the Grande Parade in Cork City, Centre” in March 2014. Cahill explained that the goal was to have an exhibition to show the citizens of Cork what the Council was all about and to invite locals to taste over 5,000 free curries from vegetables that would be going to a landfill. Furthermore, the experience sought “to get people involved in the food system and understand what’s going on, and how they can partake in it.”
Cahill goes on to say that the idea originated in Knocknaheeny, in a Community Garden project, which turned out to be hugely successful. As a result, they were approached to see if there was interest in expanding the exhibition to a city-wide initiative, which they were more then happy to do.
Cork Food Policy Council’s aims are ambitious, and reducing food waste is just one objective. Their vision is “real food for all,” which they intend to achieve by supporting policy changes, community food initiatives, and partnerships that will improve access to good quality, nourishing food for every citizen of the city and surrounding areas. In the face of issues such as rising food prices, disconnection from local producers, and the availability of cheap, unhealthy food, the Council aims to achieve a “fairer, healthier, more secure and sustainable food system” in a region that is renowned as the “food capital of Ireland.”
Cork City has a population of 120,000, and the initiative aims to involve Cork County as well – a total population of almost 520,000. How can a project such as this reach out to and involve all the people of this region, from a variety of social backgrounds, occupations and economic circumstances? The key is in the Council’s wide-ranging membership; it is a partnership that involves “representatives of the community, food retail, farming, fishing, restaurant/catering, education, environmental and health sectors and the local authority.”
Are community initiatives the way forward for policy makers? And are these initiatives helping to drive policies into a wider-based community level?
Credit: Images by Olivia Dolan. Data linked to sources.