Minister of Food Allocates ISK 584.6 Million from Food Fund

Svandís Svavarsdóttir

Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, has allocated ISK 584.6 million ($4.2 million /€4.1 million) from the Food Fund (Matvælasjóður). Fifty-eights projects, from 211 applications in total, received grants.

Among the projects that received grants:

– The development of delicacies from lamb and sheep riblets
– A marketing initiative for the export of Icelandic whiskey
– A project to maximise the productivity of home food growing systems for local vegetable production
– Potable supplements made from Icelandic algae
– A system of supervision and certification for Icelandic salt-fish products
– Protein manufacturing from Icelandic grass
– The development of flavouring products from algae for oriental food
– Foal jerky and raw sausages

“The creativity and daring that Icelandic food manufacturers possess is a reason for rejoicing and goes to show that Iceland is on the right course as a food manufacturer. It’s also great to see that the gender ratio is almost even,” Svandís stated.

Four separate funds

The Food Fund awards subsidies in four categories: Bára, Kelda, Afurð, and Fjársjóður.

Bára supports projects at the idea stage. Eligible grantees include companies that have been founded over the past five years, along with entrepreneurs that want to develop ideas, raw materials, or processes related to Icelandic food manufacture.

Kelda supports projects that aim to acquire knowledge in support of the fund’s aims of innovation, sustainability, value creation, and the competitiveness of Iceland as a food manufacturer.

Afurð supports projects that are beyond the idea phase but are not yet ready to go to market. Subsidies aim to afford grantees opportunities to develop products from raw materials created during the manufacturing process and that are conducive to the creation of value.

Fjársjóður supports projects that aim to support Iceland’s marketing infrastructure and that support marketing campaigns for products connected to Icelandic food manufacture.

As noted on the government’s website, the aim of the Food Fund is to support innovation in the field of food production and processing,whether agricultural or marine-product related. The fund emphasises innovation, sustainability, value-creation, and the competitiveness of Icelandic food products.

City Council Introduces Proposals to Address Preschool Crisis

In the wake of parent-led protests, Reykjavík’s City Council has introduced proposals to expedite the admission of preschoolers. As reported last week, hundreds of children are currently waitlisted for preschools around Reykjavík.

A press conference at City Hall

Last Friday, parents of waitlisted children gathered at Reykjavík City Hall to protest; nearly 700 hundred children aged 12 months and older are waiting to be admitted to preschools around Reykjavík.

In response to the growing crisis, members of the council held a townhall meeting yesterday morning, introducing six proposals to expedite the admissions of waitlisted preschoolers. The proposals, approved of by City Council prior to the meeting, are as follows, RÚV reports:

  • Expediting the opening of Ævintýraborg

The Ævintýraborg preschool on Nauthólsvegur is to be opened ahead of schedule, or in early September. While the school’s playground and outdoor area are being finalised – expected to be complete in early October – Ævintýraborg will emphasise “diverse outdoor activities” in Öskjuhlíð, Nauthólsvík and near-lying areas. Once completed, Ævintýraborg will admit 100 children.

  • Utilising city-owned housing

Available housing owned by the city is to be utilised to meet preschool shortages this fall. Work has already begun to evaluate whether Korpuskóli school can serve as temporary facilities for preschoolers. Two additional departments are to be opened at the Bakki preschool, in the Staðarhverfi neighbourhood, in the hopes of accepting up to 160-200 additional preschoolers. Furthermore, community centres, along with other housing owned by the city and its collaborators, is to be utilised for preschoolers. This proposal is made on the condition of the parents’ interest in agreeing to these proposals and on the condition that these facilities can be staffed.

  • A new preschool in Fossvogur

Reykjavík will take advantage of an option-to-buy clause in order to purchase land in the Fossvogsdalur valley, adjacent to the city’s Cultivation Centre (Ræktunarstöð Reykjavíkur). The council will request the reclassification of the lot, and if said request is granted, an additional Ævintýraborg, capable of accommodating 100 preschoolers, will be opened next year.

  • Expansion of Steinahlíð

The Steinahlíð preschool is one of the city’s oldest preschools, currently accommodating 55 children. The council will enter into talks with Barnavinafélagið Sumargjöf, the school’s proprietor and landowner, with the aim of expanding the school, whether temporarily or for the foreseeable future. The will of the two parties to consider this expansion was addressed in an agreement regarding possible reclassification changes with regard to the Borgarlína transit system, which was approved June 18th.

  • Increased subsidies to daycare

Subsidies to daycare providers will be increased in order to strengthen their operational conditions, lower the cost of parents, and increase the number of daycare providers. Base subsidies will also be increased and further avenues to improvements, i.e. instructional or housing subsidies, will be explored.

  • Application protocols

Preschool admission protocols will be reviewed with a view to improve the dissemination of information to parents, simplify the application process, and work toward greater transparency. It is also necessary to review the possibility of integrating the application process between Reykjavík preschools and independently-operated preschools.

“Their disappointment has not escaped our notice”

Einar Þorsteinsson, City Council Chairman, and acting Mayor in the absence of Dagur B. Eggertsson, conducted the town-hall meeting, which was well attended by parents of waitlisted children.

According to Einar, the parents’ disappointment had “not escaped the council’s notice.” “I’m happy that there was a consensus among council members regarding the proposals … everyone’s doing their best to ensure adequate accommodation.”

Parents are not “systems enthusiasts”

Kristín Tómasdóttir, who has organised the protests at City Hall, took to the podium after the proposals had been introduced. Kristín stated that while she welcomed the meeting, and the fact that city council had finally introduced their proposals, she expressed the parents’ dismay that they’d been forced to expend energy  ensuring that city council do its job.

“You’re here to introduce proposals that you never intended to introduce,” she said, suggesting that if it weren’t for the protests, the proposals would never have seen the light of day.

“We were simply supposed to be understanding of the fact that you didn’t intend to keep your promises,” Kristín remarked.