What do parents think about the school lunches? We wanted to find out, about that and more, so we conducted a survey, in which Finnish parents were asked to share their opinions about their children’s school lunches. Below, we will present a few interesting findings.

The good news first: The majority of the parents are contented with the lunch their children are served at school. But two main things worry the respondents: Firstly, if the school cafeterias can accommodate the children’s need for a balanced diet, and secondly, they urge for a better dialogue regarding their children’s eating habits.

Is it healthy enough?
The main purpose of the lunches served at school is, according to the parents, to make sure the children get enough energy for a full day in school. This finding is closely linked to the concerns about how well-balanced the diet is. With a healthy and balanced diet, parents would be ensured that their child would sustain the day.

We share parents concern and our mission is to see beyond merely putting food on the plate, but also serve food for learning, inspiration and wellbeing. We want to create food for the future, our children. In order to do so we have invested in a new research programme that we call Brainhow. The goal with Brainhow is to identify how eating habits affect the brain’s functions, and with those insights make sure that our school lunches consist of good food for the brain.

We use the Nobel prize winning concept Nudging as an important method and inspiration for how we work.  By applying Green nudging, we aim to help people make healthy choices and educe the food waste. Our aim is to implement nudging in all school cafeterias. By doing this, we can help school children to healthier choices at lunch without directly telling them what to do.  

Communication is key
It is necessary that school staff communicate with parents to ensure them that their children had a healthy lunch meal. Unfortunately, this is an area where many parents feel that the schools are lacking. Many parents wanted to know what their child had been eating during the day, if eaten at all. More than half of the respondents stated that they had no insight in their child’s food intake at school.

Many parents also feel that their children should be more involved in planning the school’s lunch menu. We believe this would be a great opportunity for the children to learn more about nutrition, understand the importance of food waste and get them to explore new tastes.

We have started to work closely with Finnish schools to find out how to involve schoolchildren in a close dialogue with the meal services, both short and long term. This work will benefit the schoolchildren as well as the parents who will feel more involved and informed about their children’s day to day eating habits.

During 2018, we will arrange meetings to discuss municipality services at the Fazer visitor center in Vantaa, as well as other places in Finland. The ambition is to develop better cooperation models to be able to provide better municipality services throughout Finland. The participants are decision makers from various settings and private sector operators.

Read here to find out more about why food matters for day-care and schools .