The summer lunch service for children and young people at Helsinki’s public playgrounds started on 4 June. The hot meals served outdoors are free of charge, and they are available to everybody under the age of 16. New items on the summer 2018 menus include sweet-potato-and-pumpkin soup and black-salsify soup.
Meals are served on every weekday starting at 12 noon until 3 August. There is no registration, but participants should bring their own food bowls, spoons and forks.
Read more about public playgrounds in Helsinki here.
A couple of tonnes of food per day
The public playground summer meal service in Helsinki is now in its 76th year. Over the summer months, about 200,000 servings of food are distributed at a total of 61 playgrounds. This translates into roughly 2,000 kilogrammes of food daily. About 30 playgrounds stay open throughout the summer, while others are closed in July. The busiest month in terms of playground operations and meal service is June.
The menus are compiled from foods well suited for outdoor meal service, such as soups and stews. Menus are adjusted annually according to feedback from customers. For example, vegetarian meals have been increased in recent years on the basis of the feedback. Due to many requests, the menus again include traditional Finnish pea soup. Last summer only a vegetarian version of pea soup was served.
Unique service with traditions
Meal service at Helsinki public playgrounds has long traditions. Public meal service at playgrounds was begun in 1942, in the midst of World War II, when a large part of Helsinki residents suffered from food shortages. The playgrounds wanted to guarantee at least one hot meal per day to children and young people. The free-of-charge meal service at Helsinki public playgrounds is a unique public service not only in Finland but worldwide.
The public playground meal service is organized jointly by the City of Helsinki Education Division and Helsinki Service Centre’s meal services.