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Qualitative evaluation of the STOEMP network in Ghent

An intersectoral approach to make healthy and sustainable food available to all

Marjolijn Vos, Maria Romeo-Velilla, Ingrid Stegema, Ruth Bell, Nina van der Vliet and Wendy Van Lippevelde


The STOEMP network is, to our knowledge, one of the first initiatives to bring different sectors together in a municipality so as to increase accessibility to healthy and sustainable foods for all, with particular attention for the disadvantaged population. This qualitative study aimed to gain an in-depth insight into how the STOEMP network aims to reach its goal of making healthy, sustainable food available to everyone, through an intersectoral, collaborative process, exploring the facilitators and challenges of taking a systems-oriented approach to achieving this. Interviews were conducted among 15 stakeholders of the STOEMP network between March–July 2019 in Ghent (Belgium). Factors that facilitated the development and work of the network are reported, including having an external, neutral process manager, shared values, multisector engagement, enthusiasm, resources, and sense of ownership, as well as the barriers that were faced, such as time issues, uncertainty regarding continuation and funding, and discrepancy in visions. These issues reflect the strengths and challenges of taking a systems approach that aims to formulate solutions to widening access to healthy and sustainable foods. STOEMP would like to influence policy and thereby strengthen its impact, but needs further discussions to collectively formulate exact needs.

Keywords: INHERIT; STOEMP; Ghent; food policy; network; interviews; health; sustainability; equity; systems approach

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