Community well-being programs by the Mondelēz International Foundation are having wide-ranging impacts in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Part of a multiyear, $50 million commitment revealed in 2013, these community partnerships are transforming the lives of more than 1 million children in 14 nations spanning five continents, the Deerfield, Ill.-based company’s philanthropic arm said this week.
Working closely with leading nongovernment organizations, public health experts, local governments, parents and teachers, the foundation and its partners are empowering families and communities to lead healthier lives by focusing on nutrition education, active play and access to fresh foods, as well as innovative approaches to learning such as gardening.
"We're proud to partner with organizations that share our passion to promote active, healthy lifestyles in countries with some of the highest childhood obesity rates," said Sarah Delea, president of the Mondelēz International Foundation. "Across all of our programs, success is built on collaboration. While each program operates independently on the ground, the foundation brings the teams together to share ideas and learn from each other. This has been instrumental to their progress."
Each partner monitors effectiveness and transparency to ensure that their programs connect in a meaningful way with primary-school children, their families and communities. They track progress against a universal set of metrics critical to achieving well-being, which the foundation developed in 2013 with its community partners and a public health expert from Yale School of Public Health.
"The Mondelēz International Foundation's efforts are a major step in the right direction towards improving community health programs' processes, oversight and outcomes," said Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, professor of epidemiology and director of the Office of Public Health Practice at Yale School of Public Health. "As a result, partners are seeing positive change in their communities."
Following are highlights from seven programs included in the report:
Brazil: Through a partnership with INMED Partnerships for Children and Instituto Esporte e Educacao, Health in Action engaged more than 400,000 students from more than 1,000 schools in healthy-lifestyle education activities such as gardening and exercise games.
China: The Mondelēz Hope Kitchen Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles Program benefited 150,000 rural students with support from the Chinese Youth Development Foundation and Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program achieved a 10 percent decrease in students with malnutrition and a 6 percent increase in students with a normal body mass index.
India: Shubh Aarambh (Auspicious Beginning), a joint program of Save the Children India and Magic Bus, reported that 68 percent of students were more physically active daily.
United Kingdom: Operating in 100-plus schools and benefiting more than 80,000 students, Health for Life has had a positive impact on nutrition behaviors, reporting an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. In addition, 68 percent of parents reported that they would change/do something regarding healthy choices for themselves and their families, such as looking more carefully at nutrition labels and changing their child's lunches and beverages.
Gardens: The Key to Improving Nutrition
In many of the foundation's programs, gardens are the cornerstone for creating nutritious eating habits. For instance, since the implementation of garden-based education programs with interactive workshops in Mexico, the number of children eating three or more vegetables has doubled. Through the Health for Life program in the United Kingdom, where land is limited in urban areas, children use ingenuity to create gardens out of recycled automobile tires on school rooftops. And in South Africa, aquaponics have been instrumental in bringing fresh food to areas that lack sufficient water and land.
"We've been able to establish a sustainable healthy-lifestyle culture among lower-income communities in South Africa by partnering with the Mondelēz International Foundation and drawing best practices from the INMED Health In Action Brazil program," said Unathi Sihlahla, program director of the Health in Action program at INMED South Africa. "The program actively engages students in hands-on, skills-based activities such as creating school gardens. Providing access to fresh produce through these gardens, along with innovative food production techniques like aquaponics, is especially important given these at-risk communities have limited access to fresh water."
The foundation's efforts support Mondelēz International's Call For Well-being, which is focused on four key areas where the company believes it can make the greatest impact: community, sustainability, well-being snacks and safety.
Mondelēz International Inc. markets biscuits, chocolate, gum, candy and powdered beverages in 165 countries, under brands including Oreo and belVita biscuits, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Milka chocolate, and Trident gum.