The aim is to develop a sustainable operating model that supports children’s healthy diet and reduces the climate impacts of the food system in early childhood education and care (ECEC).
vegetables and sustainable species of fish will be offered at mealtimes in ECEC and the consumption of meat and milk will be adjusted to reasonable levels to meet recommendations.
will be promoted, the amount of food waste will be reduced and the financial and climate impacts of the change to a plant-based diet will be assessed.
An operating model
will be developed in cooperation between the professionals from municipalities, food services and ECEC, and children and their parents.
- 4 municipalities
- 23 day-care centres
- 400 children
The FoodStep project is implemented in four municipalities (incl. Lahti, the European Green Capital 2021) in a total of approximately 20 day-care centres, in which a total of 400 children between 3 and 5 years of age are studied (200 children in the intervention group and 200 in the control group).
The Food Step project is implemented and coordinated by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) together with the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the University of Helsinki and Laurea University of Applied Sciences. The entire working group is introduced here. In addition, the municipalities of Ilmajoki, Kauhajoki and Kauhava, the City of Lahti, Päijät-Häme Social and Health Care Group, Päijät-Hämeen Ateriapalvelut Oy, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences SeAMK, the University of Turku, Finnish Society for Food Education Ruukku and Viikki Food Design Factory participate in the project. The main funder of the project is the Academy of Finland. The privacy notice for the study is available on the THL website. The co-creation of the operating model and the trial will be carried out between 1 February 2021 and 30 November 2024.
What we measure?
We will measure children’s overall diet and nutritional state, the climate impacts of their diet, and the knowledge, attitudes and practices of families, decision-makers, and food service and ECEC professionals with regard to nutrition and the environmental impacts of food. We will also measure the food waste of the day-care centre and the impacts of a more plant-based diet on climate and total costs.
With the help of previous projects
The FoodStep project will take advantage of the experiences and results regarding the impacts of food on health, climate and biodiversity that we have gained from our previous projects. For example, the DAGIS and the Nature Step towards Wellbeing projects were implemented in day-care centres and children’s everyday environments in close cooperation between ECEC staff, food service professionals and families.
Guidelines governing the activities
The activities are governed by the food recommendations for families with children, the meal recommendations for early childhood education and care and the National core curriculum for early childhood education and care. In the National core curriculum, food education is defined as part of ECEC pedagogy. The Eating for Health and Enjoyment meal recommendations for ECEC published jointly by the National Nutrition Council (VRN), the Finnish National Agency for Education and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) determine the general guidelines for the provision of health-promoting food, food education and the pedagogical guidance of the activities in ECEC.
A list of frequently asked questions:
Will only vegetarian food be served during the project?
How will the menus be changed?
The amount of red meat and processed meat products will be reduced on the new menu. The amount of fish will either remain the same as before or, preferably, increase slightly. Where possible, fish products will be changed for more environmentally sustainable alternatives. Efforts will be made to gradually increase the use of legumes, vegetables, root vegetables, fruit and berries. The aim is to adjust the intake of milk to a more reasonable level (see the question further down).
What is red meat?
What is processed meat?
What are legumes?
Can a person following a low-FODMAP diet eat any legumes?
Canned beans, chickpeas, lentils and tofu are suitable legumes for most people following a low-FODMAP diet. They can also try Pulled Oats and Härkis. Preservation in salt water reduces the FODMAP carbohydrates because they are water soluble and dissolve in the liquid of the preservative. The third stage of the diet is the maintenance stage in which the diet is followed as flexibly as possible within the limits set by the symptoms. FODMAP carbohydrates can be included in the diet to the extent they the person’s intestine tolerates them.