School lunches are notorious for being unhealthy and unloved. It's not just a problem in U.S. schools but other parts of the world as well. One Swedish school cook, Annica Eriksson, decided to raise the bar and not be stifled by the usual school menus. In an attempt to bring better food to the students in her school, she made a wide assortment of vegetables — 15 to be exact — every single day, as well as an assortment of high-quality proteins. The point in offering so many choices was to ensure that students would always be able to find vegetable dishes that appealed to them. In addition, she served homemade bread everyday to the kids.
This is a school where I’d pay to eat.
The most amazing thing to me is that she successfully made these changes while staying completely in budget, proving that serving good food doesn’t have to be more expensive. Perhaps you just need a dedicated chef behind the scenes?
But those happy days of good school lunches were put to a close for a while. The reason? In a statement to the press, the head of the “school food scheme” said, “It is about making a collective effort on quality, to improve school meals overall and to try and ensure everyone does the same.”
In other words, it wasn’t fair for one school to have better food than the other schools. Eriksson said she was told she was doing her job so well that it was “unfair” to other children who attended other schools, as well as being told that they were “spoiled” and that it was “about time we do as everyone else”.
She had to cut back to a couple of vegetable options and serve store-bought bread.
This is irritating to say the least. First, I think it is a misguided idea of fairness to deny one school good food because other schools aren’t doing the same. All schools are going to have differing strengths, and while perhaps “unfair,” it is not unjust.
Secondly, I find their solution to this “unfair” food situation astounding. Why not take the good things that Eriksson was doing in her school and transfer it to other schools? Why not let her good work in her school inspire other schools?
Unsurprisingly, the students and parents complained about the changes. They knew how good it could be, and were upset that their lunch lady had been forced to feed them inferior food in the name of fairness. The story was brought to the press, and it ignited a huge backlash.
Now the responsible parties for the change say it was a “misunderstanding” on Eriksson’s side, and of course she can serve as many vegetables as she wants and homemade bread. Eriksson, while irritated at this backhanded attempt to put the blame on her, is once again serving amazing lunches at her school.
Related food story on MNN: How to make an apple pie from scratch