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School meals should speed up the transition to a sustainable food system

In a unique collaboration, the National Food Administration and Vinnova are exploring how to design a sustainable system for school meals together with municipalities, businesses and several other authorities. Kommunerna Munkedal, Hofors, Vallentuna and Karlstad participate as development environments to test innovative solutions that make meals sustainable.

This web page has been machine translated. If there are any uncertainties, please refer to the Swedish text.

Today's food system puts the brakes on achieving national and global health and sustainability goals. The challenges cannot be solved one by one, but require innovation in the broadest sense. In a unique project, Vinnova, together with other actors for two years tested a new way of making innovation happen, so-called mission-oriented innovation, with the goal that every child in Sweden should eat sustainable and good school food.

The project "A new recipe for school meals" explores what a sustainable system for school meals can look like - socially, environmentally and financially. The idea is that school meals can form a model for how the entire food system can be adjusted. Municipalities buy food for SEK 5–10 billion per year, investments that can create conditions for increased innovation in the entire food system and contribute to both new collaboration and increased competitiveness for companies.

The project is led by the National Food Administration with support from Vinnova.

Satsningen A new recipe for school meals

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System mapping identifies challenges associated with school meals

A mission-oriented approach is about changing entire systems. This requires an individual-centered and interdisciplinary perspective as well as commitment from actors at all levels. It is about breaking silos and letting actors who otherwise do not meet discuss problems and solutions. The purpose is for everyone to start working in the same direction with a common objective in focus.

Within the framework of the collaboration between Vinnova and the National Food Administration, the Swedish Public Health Agency, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society Affairs, the Procurement Agency, SKR, and the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency have been part of the work.

An expert group consisting of school and preschool chefs, bakers, small-scale food entrepreneurs, WWF, AGFO (media company within LRF media with a focus on the food of the future), MatLust (Södertälje municipality) and Effektfullt (expert in effect measurement) have been invited to the work.

Together with the service design agency Antrop, the work has resulted in a system survey that has identified key challenges, so-called leverage points. By meeting these challenges, there are conditions to lift the entire school meal system.

The project has also developed a theory of change that shows why school food today is not healthy, sustainable and economically viable. The theory of change points to the need for several measures that can move us from an underutilized school food system to a system that can deliver in a holistic way towards the global sustainability goals.

System map produced in the project


Alexander Alvsilver

Programme Manager

+46 8 473 30 55

Last updated 21 May 2021

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