The menu at asylum reception centres in Oulu will change from next week after protests by asylum seekers over the food they were served.


refugee protest


A protest by asylum seekers over the food served in reception centres has already brought changes to the menu in Oulu. Meals in emergency reception centres have been provided by a contractor used by the local council to cater for school lunches and other municipal canteens.


After receiving feedback from residents, rice will replace potatoes, and serving sizes will be bigger for adult men than for children and women. Barley is not a popular option among the asylum seekers, and neither is morning porridge—both will be replaced.


The contractor has also agreed to provide more salad and vegetables.


A group of asylum seekers had marched on Wednesday to Oulu’s central police station to demonstrate against the catering at the Hiukkavaara emergency reception centre, resulting in widespread coverage in the media.


Asylum seekers in some reception centres are able to prepare their own food, but many of the reception centres currently in use lack cooking facilities. In those facilities residents receive a reduced monthly allowance and food provided by a contractor.


Local Red Cross director Pertti Saarela told Iltalehti on Wednesday that some of the asylum seekers at Hiukkavaara were annoyed at not being able to cook their own food, unlike counterparts in other reception centres. A milky fish soup served recently also caused stomach problems for some of the asylum seekers, according to Saarela.


Some 17,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland this year, with existing reception centres largely full and many new arrivals placed in emergency accommodation.