Belo Horizonte Food Security Program, under the supervision of SMASAN, the special municipal secretary in charge of a significant proportion of food supply and distribution in Belo Horizonte, formally started in 1993 (Law 6.352/1993) under the Patrus Ananias administration (1993/1996) in a context of desperate hunger: over 300 000 were suffering from hunger and malnutrition in a city of roughly two million inhabitants, and most of the supply and distribution at that time was unregulated.
The initiative was broad and addressed multiple food security challenges: (1) integrating the supply chains of the entire food system; (2) linking local producers directly to consumers to reduce prices and increase food sovereignty; (3) using government purchasing to stimulate the diversification of local agricultural production and job creation; (4) educating the population about food security and good nutrition; (5) regulating the markets of selected produce to guarantee healthy, high-quality food for all citizens.
Its main distribution asset is the municipal distribution food centre which receives reception from producers and distribution all over Belo Horizonte municipality. Also managed at the municipal level is the food bank, which receives and donates food all over Belo Horizonte. On the district level we find the food stores covering the outskirts and low-income neighbourhoods. At the same level are the popular restaurants, sadly not as widespread as the vulnerable low-income population need. At the neighbourhood level are the open-air food markets.
- Popular restaurants: around 200000 nutritious lunches and dinners a month are served (2017) in the four Belo Horizonte popular restaurants.
- Permanent covered markets (mercados distritais e feira coberta). There are three permanent covered markets, they existed before BHFSP, but they were renewed under the municipal master plan’s (1996) food supply strategy.
- Food stores (sacolão). These are one of the most innovative Belo Horizonte strategies to regulate food prices and ensure low-income access to nutritional food. Nowadays there are 21 food stores located mainly in low-income districts. These stores sell a range of 70 fresh products, of which 20 have to be sold at affordable prices as established by SMASAN. Usually, these stores are built on public land and the private trader will get a lease from the public sector.
- Two permanent spaces to sell products ‘directly from rural producers’ (armazém direto da roça). These spaces are part of a programme that started in 1995. Its main objective was to link rural farmers with urban consumers. Besides this non-permanent open-air food markets, this activity is based in two permanent spaces that are strategically located, one near the main bus station and the other in the city centre.
- The municipal food distribution centre (central municipal de abastecimento). This megastructure covering more than 10000 m2 opened in 1997 on the outskirts of the city. The municipal food distribution centre supplies most SMASAN-related programmes, principally the five popular restaurants, school canteens, kindergartens, shelters, etc. The place hosts a food store, several restaurants and flower retailing. It is the beating heart of Belo Horizonte’s supply and distribution systems.
- Food bank (banco alimentar)This project started in 2003 and was directly linked to the national Zero Hunger programme. The food bank mainly receives from the 21 Belo Horizonte food stores (sacolão) fruit and vegetables that are rejected by the formal retailing system because they are too small or not exactly the required shape but yet have the same nutritional qualities. The food is sent free of charge to institutions such as school canteens and shelters.
- Open-air food markets (feiras livres). These open-air markets have been a traditional part of the informal food distribution system since Belo Horizonte’s creation. The municipality supported their inclusion in a formal and regulated food supply and distribution system. They are mainly located along the streets of old neighbourhoods in the original planned city, today the buzzing heart of Belo Horizonte. Once a week, traders set up their stands with an institutionalised logo provided by SMASAN to sell fresh fruit and vegetables, which are not strictly organic.
- Directly from rural producers to open-air food markets (direto da roça). This short food circuit started in 1995 and distributes locally produced food through 21 open-air food markets held either once or twice a week in streets and squares. Like the open-air food markets previously men-tioned, these fairs are recognisable by their SMASAN logo. It is interesting to note that this programme was launched long before its institutionalisation within Belo Horizonte policy in 1998.
- Evening open-air food markets (feiras modelo). This evening programme started in 1995. The markets are similar to the previously mentioned open-air food markets, but the aim is to fulfil dis-tinct consumer needs, so they are scheduled for the evenings and provide prepared food.
- Organic open-air food market (feira dos orgânicos). This last open-air food market programme started in 2002 to target consumers wanting to buy organic products. The market is similar to those mentioned previously and has its own SMASAN logo.
Source: DELGADO, Cecilia (2018) "Integrating food distribution and food accessibility into municipal planning. Achievements and challenges of a Brazilian metropolis, Belo Horizonte", en Integrating Food into Urban Planning [http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10061454/1/Integrating-Food-into-Urban-Planning.pdf].
- Creating networks
- Local institution