What brings pleasure to your everyday life? Family and friends, physical exercise or other hobbies, and the simplest thing: food.

I bet most people would put good food in their TOP 5 of pleasures. What about when you’re old and moving around isn’t as easy as it use to be? At worst case your family lives elsewhere and most friends are long gone. My grandfather says he can easily spend his day without eating, because he doesn’t get hungry any more, and is sometimes too lazy to cook anything for himself since grandmother passed away years ago. Still, I’ve never heard him say no when invited to dinner.

Mehiläinen, a company offering, for example, services to elderly people, have noticed the same with their service homes. There isn’t that many past-time activities and some of the customers can’t eat much on one time. It becomes of even greater importance that the food served offers taste experiences and gives the nutrition needed. People living in service homes appreciate good food, new experiences and a sense of community. What better ways there is to raise that feeling of community than eating well with your group? I guess that’s the reason behind my grandfather’s reluctance to eat alone: it doesn’t bring the same pleasures as dining together. Plus it does get a bit dull to cook just for yourself.

Mehiläinen and restaurant Kaskis from Turku have started an excellent collaboration. A new service home called Aurora in Turku just opened its doors on the beginning of April. The food Aurora serves is designed by Kaskis. Kaskis is known for excellent and imaginative food along with the use of local and organic products. For those of you who have never heard of Kaskis, I can tell that their tables are reserved well ahead. Presumably those living in Aurora are getting many lunch visits from their relatives, since it is the quickest way to enjoy food designed by Kaskis.

Kaskis isn’t producing meals in their own kitchen for Aurora, but they have planned the menus and took part in the recruitment process and training to get the right people to the kitchen of Aurora. The chefs have also been present in the Aurora to help at this early stage.

What are the actions chefs from Kaskis have brought with them to Aurora? Quite simple things. Firstly, all the food is prepared at the site. For example, all the bread is baked by the staff. Aurora’s subcontractors are local actors as far as it is possible, to ensure the quality of ingredients like fish and meat. There also will be a garden devoted to grow vegetables that can be used in the kitchen. Additionally, the occupants can take part in the gardening if they wish to.

That’s all very well, but what does this all cost, you might be wondering. According to the manager of Aurora, Kirsi Leväpelto, their budget will be about the same as in regular service homes, once they get everything running normally. Above all, with the collaboration they wish to bring up the discussion of the nutrition of elderly people and ways of producing food for crowds. Could there be more than one way of doing it? I could imagine that the sense of community, appreciation of being looked after, and healthy nutrition brings factors that could be counted in saved money.

Hopefully the word of this collaboration will spread and other service institutions will adopt it too. It does take effort in the beginning to do things differently but in the long run it is worth it. SHIFT wishes all the best to these SHIFTers for doing things differently and making a change.

The restaurant Kaskis is a partner of the SHIFT Business Festival.

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