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Day-care centres for more vegetables, less food waste

Published : 09 Dec 2019, 00:51

  DF Report

Press release Photo by Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Day-care centres can reduce food wastage through long-term cooperation and planning, according to a research project.

Interaction between children and nature can be enhanced by taking long excursions into the outdoors, by planting and nurturing plants, and by letting children play with natural materials, soil, and natural water.

These results are confirmed by Nature step towards wellbeing (Luontoaskel hyvinvointiin), a project aimed at finding ways to support children's wellbeing and a sustainable operating culture at day-care centres in cooperation with teaching and catering staff, said a press release issued by Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The outcome of the project was the Nature step towards wellbeing operating model which supports work for sustainable development at day-care centres on a concrete level.

The model aims at promoting health and wellbeing, learning, a positive relationship with nature and food, and environmental safety for children and families. The operating model supports learning in accordance with the fundamentals of the National core curriculum for pre-primary education.

Taking part in the project were nine pilot day-care centres from Helsinki, Oulu, Jyväskylä, and Lappeenranta.

Each day-care centre developed its own ways to include Nature step activities in their daily routine.

“The aim of the project was to significantly change attitudes and behaviour, and with its help, to reduce the threats to health and wellbeing caused by urbanisation. Adequate contacts with nature and eating plant-based food in early childhood reduce these threats. The testing phase is now over and based on the experiences gleaned, the next step will be to create a Nature step day-care centre network among the pioneers,” Project Manager Heli Kuusipalo of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said.

The Nature step towards wellbeing project was established and coordinated by THL together with the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). The main part of the funding came from the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. Also providing funding was the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.