In Finland, millions of lunches are prepared and eaten every year in schools, staff canteens and lunch restaurants. Professional and commercial kitchens in both the public and private sectors can influence the choices and tastes of their customers. All pupils in Finland have access to free school meals, and choosing the ingredients used in school kitchens is an important decision.
Salpaus Further Education is one of the largest vocational education providers in Finland. Salpaus has three campuses, located in Lahti, Heinola and Asikkala in the Päijät-Häme region. Catering outlets are an important part of everyday life for students and staff, but they also provide a learning environment for catering students. Around 2,300 lunches are prepared at Salpaus every day. Porridge made with organic oats is offered free of charge to both students and staff every morning.
The Environmental Programme of Salpaus Further Education Catering Services includes sustainable development goals, as well as an assessment of the environmental impact associated with the running of the services. Sustainable development is an important part of teaching at Salpaus, and it is also taken into account in other areas, such as choosing suppliers and setting energy-saving targets. In terms of social sustainability, the use of student catering outlets as learning environments and the importance of staff as role models are emphasised.
Domestically produced plant proteins are used at Salpaus on a regular basis. Special attention is given to the taste and texture of the dishes that include plant proteins. The staff at Salpaus want to encourage both adults and young students to try domestically produced plant proteins, since they are seen as a key part of the future of food production in Finland. Minced beef and broad bean lasagne, broad bean stroganoff and minced beef and pea Bolognese are just some examples of the dishes that have been served at Salpaus.
The staff have developed new recipes which are available to all users of the Finnish-language version of the Jamix ruokatuotanto software. New and improved recipes are being developed all the time. The development work carried out at Salpaus ties in with the InnoRuoka initiative and the Luomussa vara parempi – ruokaa ja digi hyötykäyttöön initiative, which started in early 2019. The detailed recipes produced during the development projects help with the planning of weekly menus and allow for accurate estimates of the amounts of ingredients needed.
Supporting local producers and having access to good-quality local produce are important to us at Salpaus and to Finns in general. The traceability of ingredients from the field to the fork helps to ensure that we can continue to enjoy clean and safe food produced domestically.
Students at Salpaus can develop their skills both in catering outlets used by students and staff and in teaching restaurants open to the public.
At Salpaus, a porridge breakfast is provided free of charge to all students and staff every morning from Monday to Friday. The porridge breakfast is so popular that there are queues at the doors. The purpose of the breakfast is to bring students and staff together around the same table and to give everyone a good start to the day. Many of us don’t have breakfast at home, and some of the students have long journeys to school. The porridge is made with domestically produced organic ingredients.
Students from Salpaus have prepared and served food at a wide range of events, including the Jukola Relay orienteering event, the President’s Independence Day Reception, the National Veterans’ Day celebrations and the Nordic Business Forum. The food served at the annual Salpaus Village Party for students and staff has included fish balls made with locally sourced fish, broad bean pitta breads, vegetable and barley risotto, pea hummus and other dishes made using domestically produced plant proteins and other sustainable ingredients. The food served at the Nordic Business Forum and the President’s Independence Day Reception included broad bean biscuits developed at Salpaus.
When ingredients and suppliers are chosen, it is important to consider the entire production and supply chain from the field to the fork. Professional kitchens should produce environmentally sustainable food, and they should try to influence their customers’ choices with their approach and attitude. Improving and promoting sustainability requires skills and know-how, but above all it requires genuine commitment and a willingness to ensure that future generations can enjoy healthy, balanced and environmentally sustainable diets.