Edenred's Nathalie Renaudin (pictured below), who is currently coordinating the FOOD project, talks to CSR Europe to explain what the project is about and why it is important for Edenred.
A) About the Food Project
1) Please explain the content and objectives of this Food Project?
FOOD is a European project co-funded by DG SANCO of the European Commission. As the acronym defines it "Fighting Obesity through Offer and Demand", the FOOD project aims at promoting balanced nutrition and at reducing the risks linked to obesity by acting on both offer and demand.
Launched in 2009 for 28 months, it is intended to raise awareness and act concretely towards two key targets: chefs in restaurants and employees in companies.
By deploying inovative actions and adapted tools over two years:
- The project aims at increasing restaurants awareness and at improving the nutritious value of their offer by proposing balanced meals/dish;
- The project informs employees by giving them the keys to better understand and act on their nutrition, especially during their working day.
Specific action points and objectives:
- Assess needs and expectations with regard to information about balanced nutrition, with two surveys: in 6 countries, we have invited more than 52,000 employees and 5000 restaurants to participate in the project;
- Compile recommendations from experts once needs and understanding have been analyzed;
- Adapt these recommendations to develop usable tools; more than 80 tools have been designed;
- Make it easier to obtain detailed information through guides, newsletters, E-learning DVD, on-site trainings, games...
2) Why did you get involved in this Food Project and why is it important for Edenred?
The lunch break is a basic element for a good health and well-being in a whole for an employee. Different measures help employees to have access to a decent meal during the working day. This is why the lunch voucher was born, more than forty years ago, to meet employees' needs when they did not have access to a canteen. Indeed, this system appeared as a simple idea to allow employees to diversify their food thanks to a broad network of restaurants.
However, needs have evolved. Having a balanced diet is becoming more and more important and consumers are looking for a lunch offer providing both balance and diversity.
Therefore, Edenred has wished to meet its clients' needs and also to play a citizen role as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility programme. Indeed, as many studies have underlined, the working area is a privileged environment to promote a healthy diet and physical activity.
In that perspective, Edenred, through the meal vouchers that are provided to 34,5 million people every day, turned out to be an important channel of communication, information and exchange with regards to good practices among the key players involved.
3) How many other companies are involved in this initiative?
At the beginning there were 25 partners, both public and private, that helped us to design, implement and disseminate the FOOD project. Now, there are more than 30 and we keep on working with all the networks.
We have contacted more than 52 000 employees in 6 European countries and there are more and more companies that have shown interest. As an example 14 companies have used the FOOD program in the last months in order to create awareness among employees in Belgium.
B) What's in it for companies?
4) So far your project is dedicated to employees and restaurants. However, how much could your project and some future deliverables help those companies seeking for innovative approaches that could help them develop more sustainable and healthy canteens?
In the near future, the project aims to be extended and go further in the 7 countries that are already participating. Moreover, the Consortium will also add new partners from other EU countries. Initiatives in canteens already exist, and more and more provide employees with balanced dishes. One of the innovate approaches of the program is the action with individual restaurants, to meet employees' needs. Nevertheless, employees' recommendations are designed to give them the keys to choose a more balanced meal at lunchtime or more generally during the working day and those recommendations can be applied in canteens, at home, as well as in restaurants.
C) About the EU Conference "Balanced Nutrition at Work"
5) Who is the main organizer of the EU conference on 31 May 2011?
The organizer of the Conference is the Coordinator of the programme, that is to say, Edenred. It is organized on behalf of all the partners who have also been deeply involved.
6) What are your expectations of this Conference on 31 May?
We have organized this Conference in order to raise awareness about the issue of balanced nutrition at work and to disseminate the best practices that have been evaluated during the pilot, the last 28 months. This is also the opportunity to gather all the involved stakeholders, whatever their background. Last but not least, this is the official launch of the FOOD programme, and we will ask new partners and new expertise to join the Consortium, in order to make it sustainable in the 6 pilot countries, as well as in new European countries... and why not, even beyond!