What's up with the Social Kitchen in Kemi

What's up with the Social Kitchen in Kemi

2 November 2022
Two women hold fruits and vegetables that are saved from going to waste.
14 November 2022

Four years ago, we in Kemi launched our Social Kitchen model. It was launched by Green and sustainable Kemi project and developed further by Year-round urban farming and local food production in Kemi project. Both projects were financed by the European Regional Development Fund / Regional Council of Lapland.

The original Social Kitchen model

Once or twice a week our vegetarian food expert fetched fruits and vegetables and vegetarian food from local supermarkets. Food that was about to end up in waste. She then cleaned and chopped or pureed and freezed the food. Two or three times a week she organized events with various groups of people. They prepared smoothies and even whole meals from that “close on waste”. She instructed how to make delicious vegetarian food and after cooking together they dined together. Groups consisted of for example mothers and babies, young people, elderly people, immigrants, handicapped, children, unemployed, students, men etc.

During covid19-pandemia

When covid19-pandemia locked people indoors, Social Kitchen took the challenge and changed its operating model: Left-over food was delivered to the homes of people in need. Local groceries still donated the food that was about to end up in waste. The food was delivered by volunteers from various organizations and employees who during lock-down couldn't work as usual e.g., in swimming or sport halls. The people in need were recognized in co-operation with social work of the city. When the world opened again, the model was changed so that social workers fetched the food with or to their customers.

The concept with all its features has been very popular and useful. For example, in the year 2021 over 70 000 liters of food has been “saved” for people needing it. And during the projects thousands of people have been contacted.

After projects in 2022

And luckily, even though the projects have ended the work is still going on. Red Cross was one of the organizations co-operating with Social Kitchen. City of Kemi and the developers of this model are very happy to see Red Cross continuing the operation! Red Cross is expanding the model to Lapland area and probably even wider. They have recruited voluntary people to work in markets to pick the eatable but no more suitable for sale fruits and vegetables and pack them for Red Cross purposes, meaning food distribution for the needy and other social kitchen operations.


Fruits and vegetables make up the largest share of food waste in stores. And without this model it is very challenging to reduce the waste. Besides the will to do charity this is one additional reason why also groceries are very satisfied with this co-operation.


Eija Kinnunen
Sustainability coordinator / Project manager
City of Kemi