Participatory and Experiential Learning Approaches in Supply Chain

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					Participatory and Experiential Learning
Approaches in Supply Chain Research:
     the School Food Learning Lab

                David S. Conner, Ph.D.
                D id S C         Ph D
                  Assistant Professor
    C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems
                Department of CARRS
               Michigan State University
Presented to the FDRS Annual Meeting, Colorado 2009

• School food
      g          p
  • Big and complicated
  • Intersection of two “wicked” problems
  • Participatory and experiential approaches

• FOCUS and School Food Learning Lab

• Accomplishments and learnings

• Conclusions and next steps
         National School Lunch
• 101,000 schools, 30.5 million meals per day, costs
  USDA $8.7 billion
• Goals
  • Nutrition
  • Stabilize markets
• Critique
  •   Processed
  •   High sugar and sodium
  •   Fat
  •   Not countering obesity
         Regional and Sustainable
• “Farm to School” Drawbacks
  •   Seasonality
  •   Transaction costs
  •   Lack of facilities
  •   Lack of preparation skills
      (produce, raw meat))
• Intersection of two “wicked”
    Childhood b it
  • Childh d obesity
  • Sustainable agriculture
                Wicked Problems”
               “Wicked Problems
  “Dynamically complex, ill t t d public
• “D        i ll        l ill-structured, bli
  problems…influenced by dynamic social and
  political factors…connected to, or symptoms
    f h         bl    ” ih“ li l
  of, other problems” with “multiple
  stakeholders’ viewpoints with respect to the
  desirability of alternative outcomes,” (Batie,
  AJAE, 2008, pp.1176-1177)

• Not “solved” – situation improves or worsens

• “Linear science” fails to address: “engaged”
  scholarship needed
    School Lunch: Conflicting Agendas

  Health ti i t d           f t di
• H lth activists: decrease fat, sodium;
  increase fruit and vegetables
•    Agri food scholars: farm viability and food
    system sustainability
• Commodity farmers: stable markets
• Produce farmers: long-term customers
• Food service directors: only have
  ~$1.00/meal for food costs ($2.57/meal total)
       Participatory Research


  Multiple d t  i   t f      bl
• M lti l determinants of problems

• Co-learning and iterative processes

• Utilization of community strengths and assets

  Problem solving
• Problem-solving

Minkler, 2000; P l i h
Mi kl 2000 Pavlovich, 2004
      Experiential Learning Cycle

Adapted from Kolb (1984) by Atherton (2009)
School Food FOCUS

• FOCUS: Food Options for Children in Urban
• Goal: harness market power of large urban schools
  to increase healthful, sustainable, regionally sourced
  foods in school lunches
• Components:
   1 Knowledge Café: peer learning for food service
   2. Policy advocacy
   3. School F d L       i L b i t i         h l d
   3 S h l Food Learning Lab: intensive school and
      supply chain research to aid decision-making
                                                        BROADER SCHOOL
    (Policy, Knowledge                                  MEAL COMMUNITY
    Café, etc.)
    Café, etc.)

                                     School District                 Co‐Creation
                                     Food Committee
                                     F dC        itt

                                       SFLL Core 

        Food                                            Community 
        Suppliers                                       Partner


                            SCHOOL FOOD FOCUS
                                   Mission and Goals
         Saint Paul Learning Lab

•   Specific priority items
    –   Dairy: local, rBST-free, lower sugar in flavored milk
    –   Produce: locally grown fresh produce
    –   Bread: > 51% whole grains, same delivery and packaging
    –   Poultry: local, healthier

•   Development of research questions as “contract” between
    D l        t f        h      ti      “   t t” b t
    Learning Lab and Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS)
•   Selection and interviews of current and prospective vendors
•   Sharing of ideas, de-briefings, iteration, monitoring
•   Surveys of other schools to measure preferences (milk, bread,
       l )
           Experiential Learning
                   Concrete experience:
                     new information

     Active                                    reviewing the results
   action steps

                   identifying opportunities
                         and obstacles
• SPPS likes current vendor: price
  delivery, etc.

• Already local and rBST-free

• Other vendors would need to scale up
  to meet SPPS volume

• Other MN schools also want lower
  sugar (                       g points
    g (shared results via talking p

• Put low-sugar milk in bid specifications
            d     b hb l l d
• Two vendors, both buy local, do not
  identify, willing to…

    i     ddi        i    ihf
• Price padding practice with farmers

• Developed, vetted, refined RFP for
  produce with farm name and final
              Bread and Poultry
• Less market power = less clear progress

• Opened up discussion to broader group of FOCUS
   t k h ld

• Conducted surveys, gathered information

• FOCUS arranging meetings between food service directors
  and vendor representatives
             First-Round Results

The situation was improved!
•   Milk with lower sugar content
•   More l l produce
    M    local  d
•   Significant steps toward improving bread, poultry
•   Demonstrated market power
                                But the problem was not solved:
                                •   Changes at the margins
                                •   Lack of capacity
                                •   Seasonality
                                •              g             ,               y
                                    The learning was “coerced,” not “voluntary”
         Denver Learning Lab

• Priority items: local dairy, produce,
  processed goods, meat

• Broad community partner base provides
  multiple options

• Many contrasts with Saint Paul: climate,
  size, kitchens, scope

• Much more to come!
           Concluding Thoughts
Value of Learning Lab

• Key theme: measure and demonstrate
  market power

• Brought research effort, skills, and

• Demonstrated merit of approach and
  path to change

• Created momentum, community, hope
Thank you!
David S. Conner, Ph.D.
Voice: 517-353-1914
Email: connerd@msu edu

• W.K. Kellogg Foundation
• Toni Liquori, Dorothy Brayley, Gail Feenstra and FOCUS
• Getachew Abate, Mike Hamm, Chris Peterson, MSU
• Jean Ronnei and Jim Groskopf, SPPS and JoAnne
Berkenkamp, IATP
• Leo Lesch, Anne Wilson and DPS team, Andrew Nowak,
Slow Food Denver and community partners