“Let the students at Vikaskolan keep their good food. Stop Jante!” is the name of a Facebook group started at the weekend in support of Annica Eriksson, the head chef at a school in Falun.
Eriksson was in the habit of offering students freshly-baked bread and an elaborate vegetable buffet, but was told recently by municipality officials to stop the practice because it was “unfair” to pupils at other schools.
“I was told to cook like everyone else,” Eriksson told the Local.
“Now parents and students are protesting.”
The Facebook group references Sweden’s “Jantelagen” (‘Jante Law’), the name for a typically Scandinavian value system which emphasizes the collective over the individual, sometimes resulting in the devaluation of success or achievement.
“Instead of making things worse for kids at this school, the municipality ought to support it and see to it that food at other schools get better,” wrote commenter Jenny Nilsson on the Facebook page.
“Let Annica help other school chefs to do as good a job as she does.”
Eriksson was told to pull back on her culinary offerings after it was determined that they strayed from the guidelines of a nutrition project started in Falun in 2011.
The project’s was designed to help come up with a comprehensive, healthy diet scheme for all schools in the municipality.
“The aim of the project is to create an optimal diet structure with a holistic perspective,” reads a description of the project.
While the project was meant to ensure minimum nutrition standards were met, an unintended consequence has been that food such as Eriksson’s that exceeded the programme’s goals was also frowned upon.
The municipality’s decision has left Eriksson confused and frustrated as to why Falun officials wouldn’t applaud the promotion of vegetables and fruit.
She explained that, amid the struggle to enforce common standards, the needs of the children seem to have gotten lost.
“The point is to make students happy and satisfied,” she said.
Eriksson added as well that, in general, her cooking methods were cheaper than most.
As students and school community members line up in support of Eriksson, a spokesperson for Falun municipality explained that officials there were examining Eriksson’s case more closely.
“We are going to meet each other again to see if we have not misunderstood one another,” Katarina Lindberg of Falun municipality told The Local.
In the meantime, Eriksson and her hungry students will have to hope that local officials ultimately decide to let the beloved school chef continue offering pupils food that puts a smile on their faces.
Sanne Schim van der Loeff