It was interesting to get to know opinions about Finnish meals and student offers from different prospective. I went to our canteen and asked a restaurant chef to say us something about food for students.
Finnish state social organization KELA pays 1,94 euro per each student meal, so that a meal provider Sodexo in Finland can offer relatively cheap prices for students (1,80 euro per lunch). In Finland a single lunch for a student would cost between 1,80-2,60 euro depending on the meal provider. A typical lunch includes a main dish, a salad, two glasses of milk/kefir/ juice or home-made ale and bread. In many cases there are also no restrictions to the size of the portions.
Different tastes and different menus
There is a variety of meal supplements such as spices, dressings and bread so that offers can satisfy diverse meal preferences based on culture. For example, people from East usually don’t eat pork but they eat beef while Indians don’t eat beef at all, and Chinese always would like to have soya sauce.
Ms Pirjo Kouvo, the chef of food and beverages at Sodexo LUT, “We make compromises and differentiate food. We have global offers such as pizza, pasta, risotto and curry, they are international. Scandinavian offers are local, for example casseroles. We have also special menus, and usually they are made of beef and are more expensive. Additionally, there are vegetarian offers, porridge and a salad catering. We chose what to cook from a global list with thousands of receipes and we prepare menu for 6 weeks in advance.”
A student opinion
Rubén Canalejas Pérez, an exchange student from Spain says, “I think that in general student meals here are great. The best thing about them is that they are really cheap for us, compared to the usual prices in Finland. There are several restaurants; it makes you find something that you like. My friends and I always try to eat at the university, the salmon that is cooked there is totally amazing. Finnish food is good, but they could offer us more garnishes than rice and potatoes every day!”
As Finland supports green economy food service companies attempt to reduce food wastage to a minimum level. This is a wastage indicator that we have in our canteen.
Ms Pirjo Kouvo, “We have a target to waste less than 20 grams of food per person daily. It was achieved in February but not now. The reason is that it’s very difficult for us to forecast the customers’ quantity. A dish name and its taste are important. If food is good, people come and eat all. If food is not that popular or tasty, students go to other restaurants nearby”.
One of these restaurants is located in the Saimaa University of Applied Sciences and it also belongs to the Sodexo chain but has different menus. Another student restaurant Aaalef is located in the Student Union building and offers a bit higher prices and a menu’s quality.