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In the beginning of the 20th century Finland developed an incredible social innovation: free school meals. Many of our other national success stories have been made possible thanks to our education and school meal system. Our goal is to make the world’s best school meals even better and help others in their work.

During 70 years, we have come a long way to become the international forerunner we are today. There is now a versatile and unique food education agenda that has grown around the school lunch. The basis has still remained the same: to each equally, during every school day.


Finnish Free School Meal est. 1948 – Much more than a meal

Since 1948, all Finnish children have been served a free lunch during every school day. A diverse food education agenda has developed around this. Watch what do they most appreciate about this in the schools:

Meet the food agents of the future

In Finland, school meals are part of the education. Children have a free and healthy meal every day. They partake in the kitchen’s activities and decisions. They learn cooking through various school subjects, effects of food on health, the environment, economy and culture. Take a look that skills do they appreciate the most:


It all began in 1943

Finland was the first country in the world to serve free school meals. During a time of war and poverty, an ambitious law was decreed in 1943 demanding a free school meal to be served to all school children. In the beginning, the first foods offered were mainly soups, porridges and thin porridge-type dishes. Gradually, school meals became more varied and developed into the present system. Today, food education in schools is a holistic pedagogic tool which extends far beyond the school lunch.

Watch the video and travel through the history of the free Finnish school meal:


Read more on Finnish school meals.
School meals for all: School feeding: investment in effective learning – Case Finland
Have a peek at our food education in schools.
See what a Finnish school meal looks like.


ELO Foundation’s School Meal Network 

The ELO Foundation’s Finnish School Meal Network is a powerful coalition of professionals, supporters and visionaries covering all aspects of the internationally praised phenomenon known as the Finnish free school meal system. The basis for this co­-operation is an open and inspiring sharing of knowledge, experiences and practices and their application to one’s own activity. Together we are purposefully heading towards a shared goal: making the world’s best school meals even better. The Finnish school meal system has created so much good for us; we also want to share our knowledge, ambition and ideas that inspire us! Members include:


  • ELO Foundation
  • Youth Academy
  • Finnish kitchen professionals
  • The Finnish 4H Organisation
  • Finfood – Finnish Food Information
  • The Society of Finnish Gastronomers
  • The Finnish Martha Association in Finland
  • The Swedish Martha Association in Finland

Research centres

  • The National Institute for Health and Welfare THL
  • Finnish Youth Research Society

Universities & Schools

  • Perho Culinary, Tourism and Business College
  • Savonia University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Eastern Finland
  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Turku

Govermental officials

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
  • The Finnish National Board of Education
  • The National Nutrition Council


  • Trade Union of Education
  • The Home Economics Teather’s Union
  • The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners
  • The central union of Swedish-speaking agricultural producers in Finland

Media & Blogger

  • School Lunch Data Bank
  • Western Media


  • Continental Foods Finland Oy
  • Fazer Food Services Oy
  • Vaasan Oy
  • Valio Oy


The Future of Finnish School Meals

The work surrounding school meals needs constant care and updating. Such excellent work must be made visible in order to ensure resources and a rise in appreciation. The ELO Foundation originates as well as supports activities which make school meals even better, and that help children grow into adults who appreciate proper food and good culinary moments.

One good example is our School Meal Day concept: pupils and parents get to voice their visions and meet school meal professionals in person – and have a good time!

Have a taste of the Finnish School Meal Day (Kouluruokapäivä):


In Finland we have Food Revolution Day every day!

The Finnish School Meal Network presents the world’s best know-how under the slogan “Food Revolution Day, Every Day!”. In Finland, food education is a central element of each school day. At Oulunkylä primary school, people are eating together and making video greetings in English, presenting Finnish school meals and educational know-how.



For more information, please contact:

Bettina Lindfors
Executive Director
+358 400 460894

Sini Garam
Project Manager
+358 50 5870929

ELO Foundation for the Promotion of Finnish Food Culture is a non-profit foundation established in June 2009 to promote Finnish food culture in Finland and internationally. We want to bring together the makers, doers, thinkers, dreamers and sponsors of our genuine Arctic food culture.

We work within communications, publishing and networking both on national and international level. The foundation is also responsible for arranging the national Chef of the Year and Waiter of the Year -competitions where we bring out the skill of Finnish restaurant professionals. We also take care that Finland will be represented at the international gastronomic and prestigious Bocuse d’Or -competition -The World Championships for Chefs. We also support other competitions in the field, such as the School Meal Competition. 



Author ELO

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