Public meals as a future welfare solution #NORDICFOOD2024


More than six million public meals are served in the Nordic region every day, and each of these meals should incite a healthy and sustainable food culture. This was the main conclusion when experts from the region gathered to discuss the public meal’s role in the transition towards more sustainable Nordic societies. The fourth #nordicfood2024 workshop was held at Copenhagen House of Food in December.

Education and research for a sustainable public eating culture
Participants agreed that the public meal is a core element of future welfare and identified exchange of best practices and strong public procurement networks as areas of Nordic synergy. More evidence of the public meal’s value needs to be accumulated, and personnel should be supported in obtaining the necessary competencies to fulfil their roles. A common Nordic approach to benchmarking, education and research should be adopted to ensure broad political support for better public meals.

Food culture for life
School food is an ideal instrument to introduce children to a sustainable food culture, based on quality raw materials and the joy of eating good food. The vision is that all children in Nordic schools and pre-schools should have access to sustainable meals, made locally and from quality produce, and served in a social context. The public meal should empower younger generations to create a strong, inclusive and responsible food culture in the future.

Eat food, not industrial produce
The public meal should lead the way when it comes to local, sustainable and healthy food. It should be eaten where it’s produced and be made from raw materials rather than industrial produce. A more holistic focus on raw materials calls for a heightened level of competence in the public kitchens and stronger emphasis on the meal’s gastronomic qualities. Public food culture should be built around ambitious organic strategies, reduced use of animal energy and more consumption of plants.

Flexible hospital meals 24/7
The vision for the hospital meal is founded in quality, flexibility, and a pleasant meal experience. Nutritious food is a given, but emphasis should be placed on attractive meal surroundings and hostmanship – there should be a host for every meal. Patients should be able to order à la carte meals around the clock for optimal recovery, and more scientific documentation of food’s impact on recovery processes should be gathered on a Nordic level.

My food, my resource
Healthy food is a vital resource for the elderly and should play a larger role in meeting the challenges of an aging population. Public meals for the elderly should cater for the individual need and life situation, ranging from those needing little assistance to people relying entirely on professional food competences. Everybody should be offered worthy choices with respect for their food culture, physical condition and social needs. This will allow people to live longer in their own homes, which will be vital for Nordic welfare in the future.

Text by Páll Tómas Finnsson
Picture: Livsmedelsverket

#NORDICFOOD2024 are a series of vision workshops, which will be about how far we need to go, to realise the vision of the Nordic kitchen in a number of selected areas in 10 years' time. The idea is to invite a group of leading players from across the Nordic region to discuss which activities and visions we should work on in the future, if a stronger Nordic food culture is to be an effective solution for future societal challenges. 


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