Exploring scenario guided pathways for food assistance in Tuscany
- food security,
- food poverty,
- scenario analysis,
- strategic planning
A growing number of people in high income countries, also from the segments of population once considered secure, seek food assistance. Diverse food aid initiatives and practices are developed by a range of actors to tackle food poverty; alongside traditional difficulties, new challenges emerge from welfare expenditure cuts, the reorganization of EU Funds for the Most Deprived (FEAD) and from the spreading of surplus food recovery practices by private companies. Based on a preliminary analysis on food assistance practices in Tuscany (Italy), it emerged that operators involved in food assistance activities are reflecting upon future developments: how is food assistance re-thinking its role to deal with the challenges posed by the current context of change? This work adopts a participatory scenario approach to examine pathways that can be considered robust under uncertainties in the planning context of food assistance. We combine the strengths of back-casted planning, which develops desirable pathways for the future, and explorative scenarios that describe plausible future contexts. Results comprise the definition of shared priority themes and plans tested across a set of downscaled scenarios. The methodology provides a promising learning tool to engage with stakeholders and foster a creative future oriented thinking approach to food assistance system’s vulnerability and resilience.