The Mondelēz International Foundation launched a R37-million well-being programme at a celebratory event at Pudumo Primary School in Orange Farm earlier in October.
Called Health in Action, the programme looks to extend the school’s existing vegetable garden so as to increase produce which is used to prepare daily meals for the learners.
The programme encourages active play, educates children on nutrition and provides them and their families access to fresh food.
Health in Action will reach up to 75 000 children in six disadvantaged areas in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, benefitting communities where the company’s operations are located. This is a multi-dimensional approach to create school environments that encourage children and families to adopt lifelong healthy habits.
Early childhood development can mean closing the gaps between different classes and working to fight inequality in the long run by levelling the playing field. It can ensure that no class has an advantage over the next as a result of their upbringing.
This resonates with the South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) in terms of improvement of healthcare, community development and skills development.
Early childhood development is part of the NDP’s Vision 2030, and it believes the private sector will be in the forefront of this development.
PARTNERSHIPS FOR HEALTHY LIFESTYLES
Health in Action partners with communities to promote healthy lifestyles, address obesity and reduce hunger. The program supports Mondelēz International’s Call For Well-being , which is focused on four key areas where the company can make the greatest impact: mindful snacking, sustainability, community and safety.
Daniel Lombard, managing director for Mondelēz South Africa, said: “Medical studies have shown that South Africa has the highest obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa so we are proud to bring the Mondelēz International Foundation’s well-being program here to help educate younger children.
“We believe that this program will assist us in using global insights for a local impact and encouraging a future generation to embrace lifelong healthy habits.”
Key elements of Health in Action include:
- Training selected lead teachers as “multipliers,” who can train their colleagues in the background and implementation of the program.
- Establishing school, home and community gardens and fish farms so as to provide fresh produce and fish protein to supplement school meals. This will help in improving nutrition and reducing hunger.
- Increasing participation in physical activities, including jobs for local unemployed youth as “recess buddies” who guide safe activity play during school breaks.
ADAPTING IT TO SOUTH AFRICA
Mondelēz South Africa is working with Inmed Partnerships for Children to adapt their award-winning program from Brazil for South Africa.
Lombard said: “We shall reach thousands of children aged between six and 12 years old in at least 100 primary schools, over a four-year period, with this program of hands-on, skills-based fun activities.
“When they are better nourished and healthier, they will have the vitality to work and study to make their dreams come true.”
Lombard added that non-communicable diseases, or lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, high blood-pressure and cardiovascular problems, are increasing dramatically in South Africa.
He said: “We see this program as offering a boost to the South African public health goals nationally as well as internationally. The program is aligned with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of addressing malnutrition and promoting good health and well-being.
“I am also delighted that this program will be rolled out in the communities close to our operations in South Africa. This will allow our employees to get involved in the program and provide support and expertise when needed.”
Similar Inmed strategies in Brazil were considered successful after two-thirds of the children participating reduced their body mass index (BMI). About a third of these children achieved a normal BMI.
Dr Linda Pfeiffer, Inmed President and CEO, said: “We’re proud to partner with the Mondelēz International Foundation and Mondelez South Africa to prioritise well-being in South African communities and schools.
“We’re partnering with relevant local and provincial departments of education and look forward to working alongside them, as well as teachers, parents and communities, to establish nutrition basics, encourage active lifestyles and expand access to nutritious foods.”