Food teams - a different way to reach the customer

by: Jenny Neukermans

'Voedselteams' or Food teams is a group of active producers and consumers working together. Their aim is to promote small-scale, sustainable agriculture and horticulture and to develop local economies. They want to take on a pioneering role in the field of short-chain supply and alternative business operations, to make these short-chain products accessible and attractive to a broad public.

A 'VOEDSELTEAM' or FOOD TEAM is a group of people living in the same neighborhood, who work together for the direct purchase of fruit and vegetables, farm dairy and farm meat (either organic or conventional cultivation), bread and flour or regional and seasonal products from local or regional producers. They collect the products weekly in a common depot. Orders and payments for the products are made via a web shop.

A Food team is a group of volunteers autonomously organized and thus in charge of their own food. It is an honest and easy way to buy your food locally and to be sure of its quality. Food teams are organized regionally. Each region has its own operation program, however, the base is the same everywhere.

A core group of volunteers performs a number of fixed tasks. Becoming a member means paying an annual membership fee and getting access to an online store in return. At this web shop, each team has its own unique order list. You have access to the farmers and producers who have an offer for your team. Each food team also has a depot, which is a warehouse, usually in a garage or a shed at one of the members home. Every week, on a fixed day, the products ordered that week are delivered at the depot. The members together are responsible for a fluent delivery operation. The settlement is monthly. Each team member deposits his amount in the joint account and from this account the group pays their producers. On average, a food team consists of 20 families. The group is supported by a regional Food Team manager, but mainly organizes itself. Through a system of rotating tasks, they have at least one team manager, one depot manager and one financial manager.

Next steps
During the week of the short-chain supply in Flanders, the Province of East-Flanders organized a one-time event 'VT@Work' or Food teams@work. As a result of this collaboration with “Voedselteams” or Food teams, employees of the Province of East-Flanders could profit from a one-time purchase opportunity for short-chain products from farmers and producers from the region of Ghent. 'Voedselteams' or Food teams is considering re-organising this successful event in the future.

Contact information
Jenny Neukermans
PCG vzw