Social Kitchen in Kemi - tackling food waste

Social Kitchen in Kemi - tackling food waste

30 October 2019
Rescued fruits and vegetables in a cart
2 November 2022

Kemi is situated in Northern Finland and Southern Lapland by the Gulf of Bothnia, 35 kilometers from the border of Sweden. City of Kemi has committed to Sustainable Development Goals and Green acting and thinking model is included in city strategy. Green and sustainable Kemi project brings these decisions in practice. Within the project we have embraced the world or at least the city and have taken lots of bigger and smaller actions. Social Kitchen is one of the most interesting models we have developed.

Last year we had a work group consisting of people from different organizations discussing could we do something in order to reduce food waste. As a result, City of Kemi hired a vegetarian food expert with whom we found out that even though local groceries donate waste food to charity there still remain lots of mainly fruit, vegetables and vegetarian food that is not suitable for charity. The reasons are that that kind of food gets rapidly spoiled when handled several times. Another reason is that people are not necessarily so interested in getting vegetarian food. And the third reason is that traders don´t want to donate food that they are not sure if they are eatable at all. For example you can´t be sure if a dented mango is totally eatable or totally spoiled inside. They don't want to donate spoiled food.


Once or twice a week our vegetarian food expert gets - ecologically by cargo-bike - fruits, vegetables and vegetarian food from local supermarkets. Food that would otherwise end up to waste. She then cleans, chops or purees and freezes the food.

Two or three times a week she organizes events with various groups of people. They prepare smoothies, salads and also whole meals from that waste. She teaches how to make delicious vegetarian food and after cooking together they dine together. Groups are for example mothers and babies, young people, elderly people, immigrants, handicapped, children, unemployed, students, men etc.

This is a very popular concept. We started in the middle of February this year and about 70 events have so far been organized.

And the results are:

  • Food waste in local groceries has been reduced.
  • Participants have learned to reduce food waste also in households.
  • Participants have learned to cook delicious vegetarian food.
  • Vegetarian dining increases.
  • Both physical and mental welfare increase by spending time and eating healthy together.

Social Kitchen is a part of Green and Sustainable Kemi -project which is financed by European Regional Development Fund and Regional Council of Lapland.

Eija Kinnunen
Project Manager
Green and Sustainable Kemi