The war in Ukraine has caused a rapid increase in inflation and prices which is affecting business at university student restaurants.
Currently a student meal costs €2.70, on top of which Kela gives the restaurants a €2.30 subsidy per meal. This forms the government-decreed five-euro price cap for university student meals.
Since the price cap is government-decreed, student restaurants are not allowed to raise their prices above it. Due to the inflation and increasing prices, these restaurants are now in a situation where they are selling food with ever decreasing marginals or even at a loss. (Source: Helsingin Sanomat, the article is in Finnish).
The Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa recommended raising the price cap to six euros. In practice this means that either the portion paid by Kela or the portion paid by students would need to be higher.
Personally I believe the price cap should definitely be raised in order to ensure the continued business of student restaurants. However, I don’t think the student portion of the price should be raised, but instead we should increase the Kela meal subsidy by one euro.
At the moment the state budget reserves 35.5 million euros for the Kela meal subsidy. To cover raising the price cap for student meals to six euros and therefore the meal subsidy to €3.30, 15 million euros more should be budgeted for the meal subsidy. The student portion would remain at €2.70.
In the state budget, 15 million euros is little, but it has a significant impact on student health and income. Nutritious, affordable, high-quality food sustains students’ learning abilities and well-being on multiple levels.
As the inflation and prices increase, government support is crucial for students as low-income citizens. The inexpensive raise to the meal subsidy would help students get through many pricey changes in their everyday lives.
Let’s secure quality and affordability for student meals!
TREY board member,