Children and School Meals: The New Party to Negotiations for Sustainability

Minna Mikkola, Anna Post


School meals, served free for young people at primary and secondary education in Finland and Sweden, imply the welfare state’s effort at being responsible for the wellbeing of young people. This aim is very concretely expressed by the provision of statutory school meals which satisfy about one third of daily nutritional needs, offer a broad food cultural selection of meals with different ingredients and are meant to introduce children to table manners (Finnish National Board of Education, 2008; Lintukangas et al., 2008; Valtion ravitsemusneuvottelukunta, 2008). This ‘proper meal’ (Murcott, 1982) additionally reflects strongly the scientific view on nutrition (Valtion ravitsemusneuvottelukunta, 2008), and thereby connects with European historical challenges to enhance the poor nutrition status of children from families of limited means (Ahonen, 2003; Morgan and Sonnino, 2008; Spigarolo et al., 2010). The welfare state thus enters the sphere of responsibility of the family for their children (Rothstein, 1996), as it eases parental care by removing the cost and effort of meal provision from the family to the public actor. This school meal system thus not only aims to offer collateral support for learning but to promote healthy eating as a condition for public health.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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