Lowinfood : adapting school menus for an increased sustainability
A group of LOWINFOOD’s researcher partners, from Department of Energy and Technology of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, has recently published a study in the Resources Conversation and Recycling journal. This study investigates possible goal conflicts between reduced food waste, high acceptance and vegetarian options on the lunch menu in Swedish school catering. An overall aim was to gain knowledge on how lunch menus could be adapted for increased sustainability.
AREFLH is a partner of the LOWINFOOD project focuses on “Multi-actor design of low-waste food value chains through the demonstration of innovative solutions to reduce food loss and waste”. LOWINFOOD supports the reduction of food loss and waste in the European Union by demonstrating innovative solutions following a multi-actor approach that involves actors along the entire value chain.
260 million publicly founded school meals are served in Sweden every year, as a midday meal is served free of charge every weekday to pupils of compulsory school age (6-15 years) and most students in upper secondary school.
The national guidelines state the importance of pupils enjoying school meals while, at the same time, school meals are intended to be a teaching occasion (educations meals), where children can learn healthy eating habits and are encouraged to try new foods. Additionally, there is an increasing focus on environmental sustainability, through reduced food waste and also by making conscious choices, such as cooking more plant-based meals to reduce the carbon footprint.
There is a common perception among kitchen staff in Sweden that the most popular school meals generate the most food waste, suggesting a potential conflict between high acceptance and environmental sustainability of school meals.
Kitchen staff from 10 Swedish primary and secondary schools were interviewed in this study to identify the most popular and unpopular meals and food waste quantification data and lunch menus from 61 schools’ canteens were analyzed.
The results showed that the perception held by kitchen staff, that "popular and vegetarian meals create the most waste" is untrue. In fact, popular schools’ meals and vegetarian options generated less waste than unpopular meals. A vegetarian paradox was detected in interviews, with vegetarian options considered unpopular but with several vegetarian options among the most popular dishes.
For more information about the project, please visit the following media :
- The page dedicated to the project on AREFLH website
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No.101000439
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