How can food be used to increase integration and interaction between segregated parts of society?How can food be used to increase integration and interaction between segregated parts of society?

An extensive research project published 2015, covering thirteen European cities during 2001-2011, shows that segregation has increased significantly in these cities, and that the difference between the rich and poor is growing fast. In the study, Stockholm is one of the cities where segregation has increased the most.

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How can food be used to increase integration and interaction between segregated parts of society?

An extensive research project published 2015, covering thirteen European cities during 2001-2011, shows that segregation has increased significantly in these cities, and that the difference between the rich and poor is growing fast. In the study, Stockholm is one of the cities where segregation has increased the most.

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An extensive research project published 2015, covering thirteen European cities during 2001-2011, shows that segregation has increased significantly in these cities, and that the difference between the rich and poor is growing fast. In the study, Stockholm is one of the cities where segregation has increased the most.

During the last 10 years, segregation has increased in 209 of Sweden’s 290 municipalities, according to a report in May 2016 from the newspaper Dagens Samhälle. A report by daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, highlights that segregation has increased in many areas of Sweden during the last 20 years, that wealthy areas have become even wealthier, and that areas with already high percentages of inhabitants born abroad, has raised that percentage further.

The potential
Almost all European countries are dealing with questions concerning segregation, and many projects are focused on fostering a greater integration between different groups of society. Using food and meals as a tool for this work is not uncommon. All over Europe, there are a variety of projects launched with this aim: Enjoying meals together, working together in the kitchen or in the garden, arranging cross-cultural festivals and meetups are some examples of how food and meals can be utilized.

Sweden’s previously, long-term generous immigration policy has resulted in a situation different from most other European countries. 16 percent of Sweden’s inhabitants are born abroad, and in Stockholm that number is even higher. Nearly all of the world’s close to 200 nationalities are represented in the capital.

This demographic profile has great potential. The wide range of cultural customs and traditions in Sweden is quite unique, particularly given the country’s mere ten million citizens. The cultural wealth partly created through immigration most definitely also counts for all aspects of food. Just by moving between different neighborhoods of Stockholm, one experience an amazing number of world cuisines. Also, hotels, restaurants, cafés and bars don’t only function as meeting points between people of different cultural background, these venues are also some of the most accessible job markets for Swedes born abroad.

But nevertheless, segregation increases. It’s a challenge to get Swedes to travel to new areas of the city to experience the new food cultures. Both in home kitchens, and in restaurants, hotels, cafés, bars and public food venues, the meals are most often enjoyed with people of your own kind with similar background. The great potential of bridging gaps between of different background by eating together, is not fully realized.

How can meals at home, at restaurant and public food venues become a forceful tool to further integration between segments in society? How can restaurants, hotels, cafés and bars play a more significant role in bringing people from different cultures and socio-economic background together?

Can the great potential of this demographic situation be realized through activities around food and meals? Can socio-economic inequalities be addressed by using the tool provided by different parts of the food system?

This challenge is intimately tied to #11 of the United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development:
”Sustainable Cities and Communities. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

And to the following targets:
“Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strenthening national and regional development planning.”

“By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlements planning and management in all countries.”

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