Local cooperation for circular biowaste in schools and beyond

The FoodLoops project visits schools in Kuopio (FI)

07 May 2024
Technical details

The main goal of FoodLoops is to promote the implementation of a closed loop system around food services, mainly schools, in cooperation with relevant value chain actors. The measures are related to reduction and valorization of biowaste. The target groups of the project are schools, municipalities (which could include waste management companies), catering companies/school meal providers and farmers/farmers’ associations. In Kuopio, the project team is focusing its activities in the joint collaboration with elementary/middle schools and high schools, as well as the food service provider Servica Ltd. The involvement of agricultural organizations and small farmers, waste management companies, waste treatment plants and technology developers are planned for upcoming activities. During the project, best practices are planned to be tested with key stakeholder groups, focusing on establishing long-term local cooperation among them.

In Finland, we implemented a school lunch survey (via Webropol) pursuing the aim to interview pupils and students in regards to their opinion on school lunch. Furthermore, school visits allowed the project team to observe eating situations on site and understand better why many pupils do not eat school lunch and at the same time, looking for ideas to improve the situation. During these visits to local schools, the FoodLoops team of Kuopio promoted the eating of school lunch, raising awareness to the fact that “uneaten school meal” means directly food waste. Besides this, the project team had the chance to bring attention to a proper sorting out of unavoidable biowaste in school kitchens/canteens.

In March, the team achieved a total of four schools visits in Kuopio, namely “Minna Canth middle school” (approx. 700 students), “Puijonsarvi comprehensive school” (approx. 480 students), “Hatsala middle school” (approx. 700 students) and “Lumit high school” (approx. 600 students). The latter has its school restaurant also being used by about 460 students from Lyseo high school. Through the survey at schools, we were able to collect a total of 126 answers. A summary of which is presented in the following paragraphs.

The FoodLoops project team of Savonia University of Applied Sciences on a school visit at Kuopio art high school Lumit. From left: Harri Auvinen, Iina Kilpeläinen, Anne Holopainen, Ulla Santti and Eevi Minkkinen

According to the attached pie charts, only half of pupils and students eat school meal everyday. The reasons for skipping school meals were, among others, the taste of the food, free period, not having enough time to eat or specific diet. Some of the participants also said that they could not influence the design of the menus, even though there were screens in the school’s canteens showing a school lunch survey, which tries to gather all students’ opinions about their own favourite dish. In other words, we recognized the importance of raising awareness, in order to achieve school food waste reduction.

Along with the school visits, FoodLoops project team in Kuopio organised a workshop with schools’ representatives. There, the involved ones also discussed other topics, such as the possibility of selling leftover school food to the residents of the surrounding area, rebranding the “school canteen” to “school restaurant” to be more attractive to students, pacing meals to reduce queues and calling vegetarian food by its own name. For example, porridges, potato soup and spinach pancakes have been popular dishes, and they are not considered as vegetarian food as, for example, vegetable soup. Many also appreciate that salad is available with every meal.

Future activities in Kuopio within the FoodLoops project are workshops with the other target groups, as well as an event planning for this year’s Waste Week (Fall 2024).


“How often do you eat school lunch?” – Results of a survey in four schools in Kuopio

“Why do you not eat school lunch?” – Results of a survey in four schools in Kuopio


Contact information:

Ulla Santti, Project Manager


+358 44 785 6921



Ulla Santti, RDI Specialist and Project Manager

Eevi Minkkinen, Research Engineer