El Salvador's Food RevolutionWed 28 Nov 2012
Story by Caro Jaime
El Salvador is the heart of Central America; better known as ‘the little thumb’, because we are the smallest country in the continent. However, we have a big heart and party spirit and we love to share with others, laugh and enjoy food!
Today our population is suffering from obesity-related diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and fatty liver disease. The country has about 800,000 diabetic patients, and nearly 500,000 people are assisted each year for suspected hypertension (high blood pressure). These figures should not surprise you, because each weekend in El Salvador $37 million dollars are spent, of which 37% is spent on fast food, specifically pizza and fried chicken. That's why we need an immediate a Food Revolution!
We started our Food Revolution here in El Salvador with young people, connecting with Universities and companies which engage and employ youth, including Teleperformance, a call center, FUSAL, a non-profit organization that works for the nutrition of families in the rural area of the country, Be Fit, a local gym, Pigmalion, an etiquette and personal image school, and Joven360, a youth program which helps young people find work.
A Food Revolution in the Workplace
All the companies we have worked with are very open to the cause and to starting a Food Revolution in the workplace. Once we connected with Teleperformance they immediately began to work through the Food Revolution Companies Toolkit '30 ideas for staring a Food Revolution in the workplace’ and shared it with their 2,600 employees and we are currently working with them to organize a huge cooking and dancing class for all their employees!
Ideas That Change Lives
With other partner companies we created the “Festival of ideas that change lives” which consisted of four conferences on topics relating to life-changing ideas and the importance of a healthy food culture.
Tigo (a Latin American communication company) donated the official t-shirt for the event, and we opened on the first day with FUSAL, who taught about social marketing and ‘How to Sell a Cause’. Next up, Be Fit showed how consumer habits can inspire the creation of a brand:‘ Creating a Brand and a Healthy Lifestyle’. We closed day one with a fun dancing class for all!
On day two we started the conference with Pigmalion who showed students the power of healthy lunch and how healthy meals can benefit business through ‘Strategic Meals: A Powerful Business Tool’. Healthy food samples were provided by Zoes, a local healthy food restaurant and Joven360 taught us how being healthy improves your job prospects through ‘Young: Opportunities, Experiences and a Healthy Life’.
We ended the day with students posting their thoughts on a communal wall and sharing their ideas about how to start a Food Revolution in El Salvador and change some of the health statistics for our country.
I am grateful and proud of the companies who supported us, and volunteers and friends who joined the Food Revolution and enjoyed the festival with us!
Now the challenge is to turn these ideas into action to change our country, Latin America and worldwide!
Next Steps and Plans for the El Salvador Food Revolution
We’re continuing our local movement here in El Salvador, and in December we will be at the ‘Be Fit’ Festival, where many companies that are interested in a healthy lifestyle come together to promote a healthy Christmas.
We’re also getting ready for Food Revolution Day 2013 with Santa Tecla City being the official city to celebrate the day here in El Salvador! We’re already working with the city hall and private enterprises on a real food festival for approximately 1000 people! At the festival we’ll provide food education information, and support for participants in order to encourage a healthy food culture.
Because we need a Food Revolution, El Salvador takes standing up for real food in order to improve the quality of life very seriously!
About the author: Caro Jaime is a communicator, fashion journalist and brand stylist. Since June 2012 is an Ambassador for Food Revolution in El Salvador. @Caro_James
Other connections made with organisations in El Salvador for the local Food Revolution include:
• Teleperformance El Salvador, a call center
• Hello Production, a photography and multimedia company
• The Communication School of Dr. José Matías Delgado University, and
• Campus, a magazine for university students
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