Up to 25 percent of all school food is now a special diet of various kinds. From gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose-free to the exception of some foods that children are allergic to, such as eggs or for other reasons or pork for religious reasons.

- There can be four or five variants on one dish, says Daniel Fallegrim, kitchen manager at Mariebergsskolan in Karlstad.

Not vegan

According to common guidelines developed in Värmland, students can get vegetarian diets and diets free of pork without a certificate. Lactose-free milk is also offered to all students every day. After notification, children can have low lactose alternatives.

However, halal, kosher or vegan foods are not offered. Those who do not want to eat traditional meat are instead offered lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets. Neither is LCHF and other diets offered. And special diets for medical reasons, such as gluten-free diets, food allergies and completely lactose-free diets require medical certificates. Certificates are also required for neuropsychiatric problems.

- We definitely see an increase in the proportion of special diets, says Linnea Olsson, diet strategist at Karlstad Municipality.

More expensive raw materials

The ingredients for special diets are often more expensive and the handling of special diets also requires more staff as they have to be handled separately. In the kitchens that make the most special diets, there is basically a full-time service.

- After all, we have limited resources, so it's clear that it limits costs for other food. But we have to meet those who cannot eat the usual food and the portion cost is calculated per pupil no matter what they get.

Requires medical certificate

The most common wishes for special diets are low lactose, pork-free and vegetarian diets.

- We absolutely require lactose-free medical certificates, because if you are not lactose intolerant you can actually get it because you do not eat lactose, says Linnea Olsson who thinks that all children who have problems with food should be investigated in order not to exclude any food in unnecessarily.

Gluten-free has become a trend in society, but even there the cost unit requires medical certificates.

When it comes to pork-free, kitchens try to offer pork-free alternatives, but pork is often cheaper than other meats and also part of the Swedish food culture.

- We would like to protect our Swedish food traditions, says Linnea Olsson.