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Finland mulls adding snack to free school meal offering

Agriculture and Forestry Ministry Jari Leppä said Saturday that he was concerned by reports that many pupils are skipping school lunches.

Lautasella on kalapuikot ja muusi, maitoa ja näkkileipää.
A recent Yle study found wide variations in the kinds of school meals provided by different municipalities. Image: Jaana Polamo / Yle

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Jari Leppä said Saturday that he has commissioned a study into how to improve free school meals. Speaking on Ykkösaamu, Yle’s Saturday morning discussion programme, Leppä said that he was concerned by reports that many pupils are skipping school lunches.

The minister said that the report would also consider whether or not municipalities should provide a snack in addition to the free meal currently offered in schools.

“Working life has become more intense and perhaps children are alone more with other children on afternoons. Should there be elements to curb the current snacking culture?” the minister said.

The minister said that decision-makers must consider what steps to take to ensure that school food is tasty. However he did not comment on how much money would need to be spent to provide more palatable meals.

“The goal should absolutely be for more students to eat their school meals. If that requires a financial investment then it must be done,” Leppä declared.

Last week, Yle reported that in some parts of Finland up to 60 percent of students skipped a school meal and that there were vast variations in the kinds of meals provided by municipalities.

Finland launched the free school meal concept 70 years ago in 1948.

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