The European FOOD -Fighting Obesity through Offer and Demand- programme was created as a project in 2009 thank to the co-funding of the European Commission (DG SANTE).
Edenred, as lead partner and coordinator, proposed to representatives of Public Health Authorities, Nutritionists, Research centres and Universities in six countries (Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, and Sweden) to form a Consortium of partners.
Despite the end of the EU funding in April 2011, the partners decided to take advantage of the actions and results and continued under a long-term programme, that Portugal joined in 2011.
Edenred designs and develops voucher programmes for companies and public authorities. Its flagship product is the meal voucher (or Ticket Restaurant®) which has been in practice worldwide for more than 50 years and is used by more than 43 million people every day in 42 countries.
Meal vouchers can act as a launch pad for effecting a change of employee food and lifestyle habits. Furthermore, the FOOD project – which became a long-term programme - is in perfect harmony with Edenred’s stated corporate social responsibility goals, of which access to balanced nutrition is a key priority. Edenred is responsible for the coordination of the programme and for the dissemination of the information and results.
Directorate-General of Health (DGS)
The Directorate-General of Health (DGS) regulates, guides and coordinates the activities on health promotion, disease prevention and definition of technical conditions for proper care provision; it plans and programs the national policy for quality in the Health System; ensures the development and implementation of the National Health Plan; and also coordinates international relations of the Ministry of Health.
National Programme for the Promotion of Healthy Eating (PNPAS)
The National Programme for the Promotion of Healthy Eating (PNPAS), a Directorate-General of Health’s priority programme, aims to improve the nutritional status of the population, encourage the physical and economic availability of foods which constitute a healthy eating pattern, and create the conditions for the population to value, enjoy and eat them, integrating them into their daily routines. The strategy should allow the provision of foods which promote health and well-being for the entire population, be able to create citizens capable of making informed decisions about healthy foods and cooking practices, encourage the production of foods that are healthy and at the same time are able to boost employment, create balanced spatial planning and local economies, encourage local consumption and production methods that reduce impacts on the environment, reduce inequalities in the demand and access to foods that constitute a healthy eating pattern, and improve the qualification of those professionals that can influence the food consumption of the population.
Step 1: Research and knowledge
The first steps of the programme such as the inventory of the existing programmes and the surveys were not carried out in Portugal. Instead, the recent health data of the Directorate-General of Health was used. The partners began the programme by defining specific national recommendations and designing a communication strategy aimed at the two main target groups.
The local partners used the studies elaborated by the seven countries already member of the FOOD programme (Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden) to then plan the messages and tools.
Step 2: Recommendations
The Portuguese partners chose to adopt the common recommendations created by the six first countries. They used them and added recommendations they believed were missing specifically regarding local eating habits to enrich these first endorsements.
Recommendations to the employees
- Plan all your meals in advance, eating at irregular times and snacking fduring the day promotes obesity;
- Choose brown or whole wheat bread for your snacks;
- Don’t forget to introduce a dairy product in snacks;
- Always start your meal with a vegetable soup. Occasionnally add beans;
- Choose water to accompany your meal;
- Include a piece of fruit in your dessert and snacks;
- Reduce salt, give preference to herbs for cooking;
- Choose olive oil for season foods and salads, but use sparingly;
- Prefer simple cooking: steam or grill. These type of methods will preserve the nutrients of food;
- Avoid soft drinks;
- If eating out of your workplace make sure you get some exercise and go by foot. If accompanied, so much better;
Recommendations to the restaurants
- Favour cooking methods such as steam, oven, or grill;
- Have jugs of water available;
- Provide vegetable soup;
- Provide mini dishes;
- Don’t have salt on the table, only provide if asked for;
- Provide vegetables (raw or cooked) and beans, as an accompaniment;
- Offer brown bread or whole grain;
- Provide fish and white meat dishes;
- Provide the usage of seasonal and national products and its promotion;
- Include fresh fruit in the “Menu of the Day” as an alternative to a sweet dessert;
- Use herbs as a salt substitute;
- Use olive oil as the main fat for cooking, starters and accompaniments.
Criteria to respect in order to be part of the FOOD restaurants’ network
Following the creation of the FOOD recommendations for restaurants, a network of restaurants respecting a certain number of recommendations was created.
In Portugal, restaurants have to apply 10 out of the 12 recommendations in order to be part of the FOOD restaurants network.
To see the map of the entire network of FOOD restaurants, click here.
Step 3: Communication strategy
Along the project and programme phase, several communication tools targeting both target groups were created:
Step 4: Evaluation
Questionnaires inspired from the 2009-2010 surveys conducted during the project phase, called the FOOD barometers, have been launched every year since 2012 to monitor the evolution of the habits and opinions of both target groups – employees and restaurants - about balanced food.
Step 5: Adaptation and dissemination
The data collected during the evaluation allows the partners to adapt the communication strategy to employees and restaurants’ needs and expectations. This is a continuous improvement of the programme, its messages and communication tools.