Since 1973, Swedish students of all ages have enjoyed free school dinners – one of only three countries in the world to do so. Recently, this enlightened approach has been reinforced by the introduction of a new law in July 2011 stating that school meals have to be of a certain nutritious standard. This is part of the Swedish Government’s initiative to make Sweden a world-leading culinary nation.
In addition, the Swedish National Food Agency is keen to make the profession of school chef a job to entice the cream of Sweden’s culinary talent. Eva Sundberg, project manager at the National Food Agency, has worked for 25 years in developing and organizing school restaurants, and says she has seen movement towards this in the past 5 years.
“We have seen an increase in new, engaging chefs, coming in to this industry with new visions and hope for the school dinner´s future. They are proud of their profession and so they should be,” Eva says. “Replacing words like ”school kitchens” to ”restaurants” and “school cook” to “chef” is one way to do it. The more professional it gets, the more professionals want to work here.”
"We cook all meals from scratch and try to use local food suppliers as much as possible. On Fridays we bake homemade bread and sell to parents. The proceeds go to the student council and for a new pasta machine for the school kitchen,” says Peder Widmark, head chef at the Swedish school.
To encourage the next generation of potential Swedish chefs, on Friday May 4th, Swedish Michelin star chef, Gustav Trägårdh, and Jonas Dahlbom, a former winner of Sweden’s prestigious Chef of the Year competition, will be attending the Swedish School in Barnes to cook a Swedish lunch for 150 children, their parents, the school’s staff and media. The event will be hosted by Nicola Clase, Sweden’s ambassador to the UK.
Maria Lennernäs, Professor in Food and Meal Science with Special Emphasis on Behavioral Science at the University of Kristianstad recently conducted a report on the importance of nutritious meals at school. “It is obvious that food has an impact on our emotions and level of motivation. A hungry student becomes a restless student. Food itself and timing of eating is essential when it comes to learning,” she says. ”It´s a waste to spend a lot of money on how to make the schools better without making sure something as important as the school dinner isn´t included. Without a dinner, hungry students won´t learn, which means the money is wasted.”
For more information please contact:
Gemma Mc Aloon, W Communications
07841 870 855
Malin Nyberg, VisitSweden