Lara - Food policymaker
Lara is a local food policymaker at the municipality. On top of that, she also works on her PhD research in Wageningen. Watch the video to get a glimpse of a day in the life of her work. Or read the full story below.
A week in the life of Lara
From: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Studies: MSc Organic Agriculture
Job: Food policy adviser
Can you give a short introduction of yourself?
"My name is Lara. I originally come from Amsterdam and moved to Wageningen for my undergrad studies in Animal Sciences. After completing this bachelor's I continued with the master's programme Organic Agriculture.
During my master's I focused on sociology and public administration as I believe good governance is the key to a good food system. After graduating from Wageningen University & Research I continued my job as a local food policy maker for the municipality of Ede. At this municipality, I also did my MSc internship.
In my job, I work on making the food system in Ede more healthy and sustainable for and with citizens. Rather than just implementing projects I keep track of the bigger strategy by continuously adapting, updating and monitoring the Ede food policy. Two years after starting my job I was able to start a PhD research on the development of local food policy in the Netherlands. I do this at the Public Administration and Policy group of Wageningen University.
For me, this is combining the best of both worlds: what I learn from science I can implement in practice and what I encounter in my daily work I can study to gain scientific insights."
How would you describe your workweek?
"My weeks are very diverse. On Monday, Tuesday and Friday I usually work at the municipality in Ede. On Wednesday and Thursday, I work on my PhD research at the university of Wageningen. My days in Wageningen are usually behind my computer, analysing data, writing papers, reading literature. But also of course going for a walk with my PhD colleagues and having a coffee with my colleagues from the Public Administration and Policy department. Every day at 10 we have our coffee break!
In Ede I have meetings with colleagues, I write memo’s for my aldermen, I visit partners such as primary schools and entrepreneurs. I supervise interns from the university of Wageningen, who are interested in food policy, I visit projects in other municipalities, write press-releases, give presentations about our food program at events.
One of my tasks is also to involve other colleagues in our food program. So I organise lunch lectures and workshops on topics like food waste or food education, for which I invite speakers from the field. For the city deal ‘food on the urban agenda’: a network between cities, provinces and the national government in the Netherlands, I coordinate the governance group. The last project we completed was the development of a website where we present good food policy practices at the municipal level throughout the Netherlands.
Sometimes I have to go to Brussels or other cities in Europe for research meetings or meetings with other cities or the European Union to discuss for example how we can best monitor local food systems."
What are your future goals?
"Bridging the gap between science and policy-making to improve food governance is something I really want to keep doing in the future. In a couple of years, I could see myself doing so for other governments or NGO’s, maybe also in other countries. And who knows if someday I might become a politician."