Smart School Nutrition (Alimentação Escolar Inteligente - AEI) is a web application and platform that supports school to avoid food waste and contributes to a balanced school nutrition through its intelligent menu creation and food stock management assistant. According to Brazil without Hunger (Brasil sem Fome), there are 33 million families suffering from hunger and 125 million living with food insecurity. This is happening in a context where one third of the world's food is being wasted (FAO, 2001). After the implementation of the the Smart School Nutrition programme, 58 preparation sheets and 48 menus were prepared for the Tengatuí Marangatú Indigenous School, which reduced food waste by almost 80% in 10 weeks.
School feeding management is a complex task for Brazilian municipalities. In addition to the challenge of managing all the diversity of foodstuffs, quantities and deadlines, the team of nutritionists also needs to deal with adapting the diets of a huge number of students. In this context, the startup Lemobs has developed a technological solution to provide support to professionals involved with school meals. The solution consists of an integrated software and application that allows for the management of school meals according to the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) guidelines, including menu management, nutritional per capita, inventory and cost management and control and approval of requested/received orders. In addition, food acceptability and quality tests are provided, as well as tools for nutritional monitoring of students that allow recording health data, allergies, intolerances and other conditions that assist in the planning and execution of food supply in schools. The software automates the various stages of the process while respecting the legal framework of the PNAE, which has more than 80 regulations ranging from nutritional tables to accounting. With the identification of student profiles, nutritionists are able to prepare and make available menus and recipes for schools to choose from, which place their orders in an automated way through the application, generating more transparency and ease of management by allowing the control and visualisation of the entire process by those involved (Department of Education, nutrition team and school board), from the availability of menus to delivery by suppliers.
The solution promotes efficiency, agility and transparency to the school feeding management process, facilitates stock control and the request and receipt of orders from Family Farming, reduces food waste, automates the control of the nutritional quality of food and the monitoring of the development of children and adolescents. PNAE has been recognised by institutions such as FAO and WFP. We believe that AEI's innovative approach can be used in all Brazilian cities and scaled up globally to implement sustainable school feeding programmes. The AEI solution is able to directly impact 4 UN SDGs:
- SDG 2. Zero Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture: The project promotes sustainable agriculture and helps fight hunger by supporting Secretariats and schools in ensuring nutritious and safe food for students.
- SDG 3: Health and Well-being: Quality food directly impacts the health of students.
- SDG 4. Quality Education: Quality nutrition acts on the development of boys and girls in early childhood and serves as a basis for the learning process and for healthy physical and mental growth.
- SDG 12. Responsible Consumption and Production: By enabling the control of orders, stocks and quantities based on the number of students, acceptability tests and other indicators, the solution helps to reduce food waste and losses.
In the context of the Dourados indigenous schools project, the technological solution made it possible to measure the amount of food discarded during the preparation and consumption. With the involvement of the team of consultants, training and modifications were made to improve the processes, allowing for a reduction of about 80% of food disposal.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The Smart School Nutrition solution is composed of integrated web applications and platforms offered in the software as a service model. The innovative impact directly affects family farming, as the PNAE requires that 30% of the resources allocated to school feeding by the Federal Government be reserved for family farming. The system can identify the supply of farmers and the needs of each school, generate orders automatically from the menu definitions and stock control. It automates the distribution of orders for vegetables, fruit, legumes, eggs and other family farming products, simplifying the work of headmasters. This increases the support of the Education Department to farmers, facilitating the direct purchase of more volumes and varieties of their products.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The success of the project has led to the Secretary of Education supporting the expansion of the AEI to all indigenous schools and to all schools in the municipality is ongoing. For this same goal, the IBRF has extended its partnership and ensured that the benefits are brought to all indigenous schools in the city.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The solution had the participation of companies, with Lemobs as the main developer and the IBRF Institute as a supporter of the development. Education Secretaries also participated in the design process, which took place in the municipality of Dourados/MS. In addition, there was also the participation of indigenous peoples because it is an indigenous school, with broad participation of civil society and the users themselves, including citizens, students and other stakeholders in Dourados.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The Department of Education, City Halls, School Directors, nutritionists, caterers, parents, students, family farmers and indigenous people are partners involved. The impact is on food preparation time, waste control, resource savings and monitoring of food eaten by children. Each indicator acts directly on the profiles of users and stakeholders, generating direct, indirect, as well as individual and collective benefits.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
After the implementation of the AEI, 58 preparation sheets and 48 menus were prepared for the Tengatuí Marangatú Indigenous School, which reduced food waste by almost 80% in 10 weeks. To come to this conclusion, the leftover index was analysed, which assesses the quantities wasted (leftover dishes). Dialogues were held with the cooks to adapt the menus, portioning and presentation of the dishes, full use of food in order to ensure the legacy of the changes implemented. With the success of the project and the Secretary of Education's support the expansion of the AEI to all indigenous schools and to all schools in the municipality is ongoing. The IBRF has extended its partnership and ensured that the benefits are brought to all indigenous schools in the city.
Challenges and Failures
Challenges were encountered relating to the increase in food prices due to inflation in Brazil and so the system had to adapt to the imposed scenario. The project team made food donations and the AEI system helped to avoid wastage, with no food missing from the children's plates. Another challenge is related to the communication between the nutritionists of the Secretariat and the cooks. To overcome this challenge, the software aided in facilitating this communication and generating materials that make it easier for the cooks to understand.
Conditions for Success
The main condition for the success of the AEI was the proximity to the cooks and the support received from the school community around the project. In addition, the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) is a consolidated policy that ensures adequacy and standards around school feeding.
The PNAE is regulated by a federal law that calls for the universalisation of school feeding for all Brazilian students. It provides about 50 million meals a day for 40 million students, an investment of almost US$ 1 billion per year distributed to municipalities. However, part of these resources never reach the children, either due to mismanagement or food waste. In this way, it is possible to replicate the AEI solution for all Brazilian schools since the system is aligned with federal standards and allows monitoring of different actors such as nutritionists, secretaries, headmasters and cooks through an integrated platform and dashboards. Our goal is to contribute with technology to optimise resources and assist governments in implementing successful school feeding processes that align with PNAE guidelines.
During the implementation of the solution, we realised that to ensure good results and permanent changes, it is necessary to involve the entire school community and actors working in food management. The involvement of teachers by bringing the topic of food waste through nutritional education, as well as the resumption of the school garden by faculty contributed to raising awareness of food waste among students and family members. The solution is an essential tool to facilitate the understanding and visualisation of data through smart dashboards, but technology must be used well to ensure its success.
The AEI solution is currently used in the municipality of Maricá by 65 schools and serves approximately 30 thousand students. Due to the success achieved in the municipality of Dourados, Lemobs, in partnership with the City Hall and the Maricá Education Department, in 2022, started the project in 4 schools, using the solution for reducing food waste.
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
4 August 2023