Published by SHARECITY on the 11th November 2019.
Hello there! As we enter into another winter over here in Ireland, it seems a nice moment to take stock and think about the really important impacts that all the cool food sharing initiatives we follow here at SHARECITY are having. They are addressing huge global issues such as food waste, food poverty, loneliness, and the disconnection between citizens and how food is produced.
While food sharing does not represent a silver bullet for all the issues facing our flawed global food system, at its best food sharing provides a demonstration of doing things differently in ways that account for the needs of people rather than the profits of commercial organisations.
Since I joined SHARECITY, my goal has been to further the understanding of what the impacts are of all the innovative food sharing initiatives documented by the project. As we mentioned in a previous blog we completed the formal co-design process for our online sustainability impact assessment toolkit in 2018. From all this work we came up with SHARE IT – a free to use online tool with 3 main functions. 1) Initiatives can evaluate their impacts and create impact assessment reports in the Toolshed, 2) communicate their activities and impacts in the Talent Garden (a forum connected to our social media platforms) and 3) connect with similar initiatives around the world in the Greenhouse.
After a few road bumps and a lot of hard work from everyone involved, the SHARE IT toolkit is now functioning and ready for testing by interested initiatives! We are specifically looking at initiatives who would be prepared to give feedback on what we have created.
This short video explains the basic functions of SHARE IT:
You can find a more detailed description of the impact assessment framework that powers the Toolshed, and the co-design process we used to create SHARE IT in our new open access paper, out in the November 2019 issue of Environmental Impact Assessment Review!
The aim of the Toolshed is to provide initiatives with a flexible toolkit that can communicate the types of impact they have and crucially to also track their performance in these impact areas over time. Generally, SHARE IT is set up so that you can make impact reports of your activities even if you have collected no quantitative data about your impacts.
We recognise, that it can be straightforward to count the amount of food shared, by weight or economic cost savings for example if there are facilities to do this, and even projecting the environmental savings made in terms of carbon footprint reduction as food waste is reduced through effectively redistributing food can be done by the use of simple conversion indices. It is the much more difficult to establish how shared experiences make a difference to people in terms of their emotional or social impact. We have tried as much as possible to balance the need for rigorous indicators which clearly demonstrate impact with the realities, and in some cases ethical challenges, presented by collecting the required data in order to do this. While the socio-economic impacts of food sharing are complex, research such as the Big Lunch project in the UK have demonstrated clear empirical links between individuals sharing meals and the levels of belonging and trust they have in their community. We should not let our inability to quantify something precisely restrict our ability to definitively state that actions, such as engaging people in meal sharing are an indicator of positive social impacts.
We plan to publicly launch SHARE IT in early 2020 after a period of testing to ensure it really works for users, so look out for tweets and other promotion from us then.
In the mean time, if you are interested in testing SHARE IT by making a sustainability impact report for your initiative then please get in touch! If you would like to give us feedback on how we can make SHARE IT better, we will promote any impact reports you make as part of our official launch campaign.
You can just drop me an e-mail if you are interested and we will help you to use SHARE IT for the benefit of your food sharing initiative!
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