A school lunch.

Helsinki introduces school lunch pick-up service to safeguard nutritional needs of distance learners

Starting 27 April, Helsinki schools will arrange school lunches in one of two ways: As a normal sit-down service at the students’ schools on weekdays from 11 am to 12 pm, or as a twice-a-week pick-up service that distributes ready-made meals to warm up and eat at home.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the City of Helsinki has been serving school lunches at schools to children in grades 1-9 who are either still attending classroom instruction or have signed up to come to the school to eat, even though they are studying at home.

A third option has now been introduced, whereby students and their parents or guardians will be able to pick up ready-made meals from designated schools to warm up and eat at home. The designated schools will distribute the lunches twice a week: on Mondays, from 12 pm to 1:30 pm, when lunches for Monday and Tuesday will be distributed, and on Wednesdays, from 12 pm to 1:30 pm, when lunches for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be distributed.

Two types of lactose-free, pork-free lunches are available: a mixed meal or a vegetarian alternative that possibly includes dairy and eggs. Unfortunately, it is not possible for the pick-up service to cater to other kinds of special diets. Special diet lunches are still available from the kitchen to those students attending lunches at school.

In order to be able to reserve the necessary amount of food for the different options, families with children in Helsinki schools have been sent a survey/registration form via the Wilma platform.

Distribution of pick-up lunches will begin on 27 April. Students, parents or guardians can select a designated pick-up school that is most convenient for them when registering for the service. Note that not all schools are acting as pick-up service locations.

Parents or guardians can pick up the lunches on behalf of the students, if necessary. Distribution of the school lunches will be staggered. Staff will serve only a few customers at a time and observe the proper hygiene guidelines.

Those home-study students who are eligible for free transportation to school are allowed to use the transport service to pick up the school lunches from the school, or their parents or guardians can also pick up the lunches. If these families chose not to use the transport, they will receive compensation to support the cost of the child’s meals.

“School lunches play an important role in the daily nutrition of children and young people. We hope that by offering school lunches both at school and as a pick-up service, as many students as possible will have access to them,” says Liisa Pohjalainen, head of the City of Helsinki’s Education Division.

Coronavirus updates from Helsinki

Photo: Kimmo Brandt, City of Helsinki