My summary of Sustainable Development education in Finland and in US

United Nation has named 2005-2014 as Decade of Education for Sustanable Development. The UN states: "Throughout the Decade, education for sustainable development will contribute to enabling citizens to face the challenges of the present and future and leaders to make relevant decisions for a viable world." 

In Finland the focus for the decade was put in food and in ways to educate students to see food as carrier of wealth and wellbeing in local as well in global setting. The SEED-project was founded by Academy of Finland and states about itself: "The overall aim of the project is to promote a sustainable society by enhancing awareness and self-efficacy in environmental and socio-cultural questions associated with food production, consumption and health on the local and international levels." The internet pages have several links into subprojects. Results of those subprojects and studies with Finnish data are presented in book "Ruoka - oppimisen edellytys ja opetuksen voimavara**" published by Ruralia Institute of University of Helsinki, Finland (February 2012). (**free translation: Food - prerequisite of learning and resource for education). 
According to national core curriculum, schools must raise environmentally aware citizens who are committed to a sustainable way of life and who are able to create social, cultural and economic wellbeing without diminishing biodiversity and natural resources and without exceeding the capacity of the natural environment. (added March 9, 2012)
Food education in the form of sustainable development education is not part of "The National Core Curriculum for Basic Education" in Finland. Therefore this book aims more as being source for teacher and school for schooling system were "Each teacher selects the working methods and plans the working approaches in interaction with pupils" (p. 5). More about Finnish school system can be read from internet pages of Finnish School Activist Pasi Salhberg

About school lunch regulation practices written by counsellor of Education in Finnish National Board of Education: "The municipalities are responsible for producing, serving, monitoring and evaluating school meals in Finland. The common guideline in statutory obligations is a free meal every school day. Basic Education Act states that pupils attending school must be provided with a properly organised and supervised, balanced meal free of charge every school day." (p. 13)

Short English version of how Finnish school food is seen as tool for sustainable development education can be found in document "Finnish agriculture and rural industries" (2010) by The MTT Economic Research. In article "Muncipal catering services, school meals and sustainable food supply" (page 84 written by the same author as is co-author to the previously mentioned book) Helmi Risku-Norja states: "...public catering may exert an influence through the sheer volume. It namely comprises a single large and fairly homogeneous consumer group, the behaviour of which is through the statutory nature much more predictable than that of the individial citizens. If public catering were committed to the principles of sustainable food provisioning, it could provide a channel for improving sustainability within the food sector."

The book "Ruoka - oppimisen edellytys and opetuksen voimavara" is in many part comparable to US book "Rethinking school lunch - A planning framework from the Center for Ecoliteracy" (2010). This book states it's goal being 
"to improve school food, teach nutrition, support sustainable food systems, and create an education program focused on understanding the relationships between food, culture, health, and the environment."
Similarities in Sustainable Education Development between USA and Finland can be also found in Farm to School Network (US) and School goes to the farm (MTT Agrifood Research Finland) programs. 
"Farm to School is broadly defined as a program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. (US Agricultural Department's Farm to School Team report)"
"The leading principles of the "School goes to the Farm" action model are locality, continuity and active participation. Locality means that the focus is in treasuring and improving community-based cohesion, and the co-operation is between schools and farms located nearby. Continuity refers not only to temporally enduring co-operation but also to continuity across the disciplinary borders of the school subjects in order to help the pupils understand the intermingling of the ecological, economic and socio-cultural aspects of sustainability."
Based to my own experiences when living in France similar projects there are Semaine de goût and La France De Ferme en Ferme by Fédération Nationale des Centres d'Initiatives pour Valoriser l'Agriculture et le Milieu rural

There is currently seen political turning points for sustainable food front battles in both countries. In US the farm bill is being updated 2012. According to Food Revolution campaign, the bill is responsible for:"how we grow food, how we support farmers, how we sell food, and what food assistance programs are available to all Americans". This short video visualizes the idea of getting parents involved in the lobbying for more affordable healthy food. Real action is seen in this story how one "Texas Mom begins organizing an anti-"pink-slime" cafeteria coalition" March 2012. They say here "Don't Mess With Texas Women"... 

In Finland elections for the municipal councils, which are mainly responsible for public funded food spending, are held in October 2012. Probably due to Presidential elections held in February 2012 the debate for public spending on food has been very low key. 

The author is private person, not working in any organization and not representing any official opinion about Finnish or US school lunches. This page was made to observe and summarize differences and similarities in US and Finnish school lunch reform from the sustainable education point of view. 

If somebody wonders why I compare these two countries, I'll reply with "You have to know one way to do it before you can say you can do it better". I just learned about book called "Free for All - Fixing School Food in America" (Jan 2010). Well, school lunches have been free for all in Finland already decades and you can read stories like "The Global Search for Education: A Look at a Finnish School". Finland is also aiming for more sustainability in school lunch. For that Finland could use the same energy than was mentioned in the introduction of the book: "As Texas State Secretary of Agriculture Susan Combs memorably declared, "it will take 2 million angry moms to change school food" in America. 

Fed Up With Lunch has very lovely writing from guest blogger about Farm-to-School Cooking in Berkeley (March 13, 2012)

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