“Jean Ziegler defines the right to food as that of “to have regular, permanent and free access, either directly or through monetary purchases, to food quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient, corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people from which the consumer comes, and which ensures a psychic, physical, individual and collective life, free from anxiety, satisfying and dignified ».” (excerpt from the TerrESS Chair’s analytical note, see below)

Extract from the SSA website, Food Social Security

The SSA collective notes that the impacts of our economic model are disastrous for the current conditions of agricultural and food production and for the environment. They are also at the origin of food violence because of the absence of a right to sustainable food and the place of adjustment variable given to food in the household budget.

It works for the integration of food into the general social security scheme, as initiated in 1946: universal access, conventions with professionals carried out by democratically managed funds, financed by the creation of a social security contribution at a single rate on the real production of added value.

This Food Social Security mechanism is one of the levers for a transformation of the food system — agricultural production, processing, distribution, consumption — for a food democracy (in French).

The collective considers that food systems in France and in most of the world are not used to feed the population or to pay the workers who produce, process and distribute this food. On the contrary, their main function is to produce profit. Diet or income are just possible side effects, from which not everyone benefits. To get out of this disastrous state of affairs, we must think of food systems organized around a principle fundamentally outside capitalism and one of its instruments, the free market. That principle is democracy.

This democracy requires popular education through exchange and reciprocity, as well as an articulation between a national framework and local decisions. It serves the following principles:

  • economic democracy so that the entire population can develop food demands and decide on the food system, including the conditions of its workers;
  • the effective implementation of the right of all inhabitants to guaranteed access to informed food.

The example of the Caisse commune de l’alimentation Montpellier, France.

This project emanates from a national collective “Decent Access to Food”, an inter-associative mobilization that called for, from mid-2020, a national policy to fight against food insecurity, and support for projects for access to sustainable and quality food. This is the local version of the Territoires à vivreS project, which is located in the metropolises of Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier and Haute-Garonne-Toulouse. The caisse was launched in January 2023.

100 euros are distributed in MonA, a digital currency, created specifically for experimentation, in partnership with La Graine, local currency of Montpellier. Volunteer residents can spend them each month in food distribution sites that meet collectively developed criteria: grocery stores, buying groups, etc.

Participants contribute to a fund according to their means, which is supplemented by public and private subsidies. The fund subsidizes part of the sum for people with low resources. It is managed democratically by a citizens’ food committee that decides on its operation.

For more information on how it works, listen to the podcast (in French): Food for all: La Caisse Alimentaire Commune de l’Hérault.

  • Read also the excellent analysis note of the Chaire TerrESS (in French): Is food social security a way forward?, which cites in particular the other solutions implemented by SSE, which we have already discussed in our newsletters: cooperative and participatory supermarkets, social and solidarity grocery stores, purchasing groups for people in precarious food situations, SSA experiments with organic products and local currencies.