Archive of European Projects

Developing Educational Tools for Healthy & Creative Food Regions
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Developing Education Tools for Healthy & Creative Food Regions DECREE is motivated by two closely-related challenges. Firstly, chronic EU obesity figures (OECD) show that more than half (52%) of the adult population in the EU is overweight or obese. Secondly, food poverty is on the rise in Europe. 2013 statistics show that 116 million Europeans are now at risk of poverty or social exclusion and 40 million are suffering from severe material deprivation. It is acknowledged that the cheapest food is the unhealthiest food. These 2 clear challenges represent enterprise opportunities for Food SMEs across the EU to innovate to develop healthier, affordable food and new food distribution channels. However, these SMEs have been slow to respond as they report they do not have the professional capacity or skills base to innovate/orchestrate change in the entrepreneurship, development, production & marketing of “healthier food”. Thus DECREE has 3 clear and simple objectives: 1. To develop a toolkit to assist & train regional stakeholders to create a Healthy Food Regional Partnership. This toolkit is called the "Healthy Food Partnership Toolkit" and will comprise a programme of learning actions and guidance on how to create a healthy food region. 2. To create a set of open educational resources to be delivered via an online course for Food SME Owners & Employees. This course is called “Creative ways to produce, market and distribute healthy food” and will focus on teaching Owners and employees how to implement greater innovation and creativity in their business. 3. To test an innovative industry based employability training module with a cohort of young unemployed. This will be industry based learning delivered by Food SME Owners through providing practical placements for learners who will acquire new skills for new employment/self employment. The main focus of the project is to provide innovative, easily accessible and career-oriented continuing VET (C-VET) for employees, employers, independent Food entrepreneurs. However, to provide applied knowledge to the partnership one adult education strand is included providing an opportunity for unemployed young people in competence development. We focus specifically on how a VET response can be applied in a regional food sector economy. Why a regional approach? A creative entrepreneurial regional food economy can have profound implications for sustainable economic development. Healthy foods with low food miles represent a very tangible economic opportunity which could reward rural agricultural communities and food firms that can produce healthy, affordable and accessible food products. As a result of our project, the 150 learners (100 Employees in Food SMEs and 50 unemployed young people) who participate in the 'Creative Ways to Produce, Market & Distribute Healthy Foods' course and the “Applied industry learning opportunities” will grow confident in their understanding and application of creativity and innovation as relevant to the Food Businesses and will improve the competitiveness of the Business or become self-employed entrepreneurs or gain employment within the food Industry, because their skills and knowledge are more suited. A particularly innovative aspect of our proposal is the creation of five Healthy & Creative Food Region Partnerships. This new strategy involves bringing together stakeholders in the food sector, enterprise support, education and economic development - such as VET providers, universities & colleges, food representative bodies, enterprise development agencies and local authorities) - to jointly explore the structural issues behind improving levels creativity and innovation in Food SMEs, inventory existing resources and commit to collaborative actions to address these issues in a DECREE Action Plan. We will systematize the process and lessons learned in the form of a DECREE Toolkit, which will be published and actively promoted as a means of replicating the Partnerships in other regions. DECREE is delivered by a cross-sectoral partnership led by CIDO, the lead enterprise development body in the Craigavon region, a region known for its food companies & which produces over 40% of all food produced in Northern Ireland (agri-food production is NI’s most important industry). They will be joined by The Food Hub (Ie) & Satafood (Finland) both Cooperative Agencys specialising in Food VET training and regional economic development programmes. The partnership is completed by VMK Hungary an Agricultural College specialising in Food production, Momentum (Ie) a FETAC accredited training centre deeply involved in course curriculum & content development, Euro Foundations a Bulgarian not-for-profit organization with specific expertise in innovation, development of SMEs, stimulating innovation in food industry, & Canice Consulting (UK), an international consultancy in the field of business VET & a recognised expert in digital learning.
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