Thursday, September 5, 2013

There is such thing as free lunch!

Well, free at point of service at least.

Finnish education is based around providing equally excellent to everyone, which means that all students get a free nutritious lunch at school.  As far as I know, the staff also can also eat there.  One of my Finnish friends even remembers some local workers eating lunch at her school cafeteria.  The idea is, I guess, that being well-nourished is important for learning, so nourishment equality helps achieve educational equality.  Furthermore, when everyone receives free lunch (even teachers), then no one feels stigmatized for doing so.

This idea is so strong that even universities provide cheap lunches.  University of Turku, where I am currently studying, has something like 15 different cafeterias that all offer delicious lunch for 2.60€ (see example below!).  There are no university-run dorms, so these cafeterias are all housed in the teaching and research buildings, so it is literally a 1-minute walk from wherever you are studying/working to cheap, hot, tasty food!

I was inspired to write this post by the news that Boston, where I lived before coming here, is switching to a similar system of free student lunches for all.  After having seen that the free meals already provided at one Boston school consisted of sugary cereal and juice, I am skeptical of whether this plan will actually be nutritious like they want.  After all, the US is the country that has considered making ketchup a vegetable to decrease costs of lunch...

Low-quality picture of a delicious 2.60€ Finnish university lunch: Paella and salad (not Finnish), and Finnish ruisleipä and piimä.  There are usually around 4 main options and always rice and potatoes (this country loves potatoes!), salad bar, and a variety of delicious bread.  Also pictured: Tabasco sauce (Finns generally don't like spicy food, but at least they make it possible for others to spice their meal up!).  Most university students will save money by eating a lot of this cheap lunch, then having small amounts at the other meals.

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