In this space I feature people, companies or initiatives that could inspire us to live a healthier life or that give us ideas that can motivate us to develop local initiatives that promote healthier communities. In today’s post, this inspiration comes from restaurant chain Onze and their socially responsible program that aims to promote healthy eating habits in the community.
Most of us grew up exposed to massive advertising campaigns that were made to convince us that highly processed foods with very low nutritional value were healthy food options. Similar advertising campaigns promoting fruits, vegetables and non-processed natural foods were almost non-existent. I know from personal experience the huge difference that what you eat daily can have in the health of adults and children and that’s why when Panama based restaurant chain Onze approached me to invite me to be part of an initiative to teach kids about how to eat in a healthier, more natural way I didn’t hesitate to join in.
To better explain about this program, I decided to interview Beatriz Ponce, General Manager of Onze restaurants.
- For those that don’t know Onze, can you explain your restaurant model?
We are what it’s known as a “fast casual” restaurant where you can get fast service and more than 50 food options that are fresh, natural, and prepared after you place your order. We offer salads, paninis, soups and smoothies made with real, high quality, simple ingredients from suppliers that we trust. We believe in the importance of honest food and we make it taste delicious.
- Were does the idea to develop the program “Onze goes to schools” came from?
After a decade of service and eleven restaurants, our purpose is very clear: we want to connect people and communities through food. We want to inspire a healthy lifestyle and we know that it’s never too early to start. That’s where the idea of working with local schools to teach kids about eating healthy came from.
- What is the main objective of the program?
The program’s main objective is to teach young kids to have a positive relationship with healthy food. We do this through fun activities and workshops. To inspire and educate is part of our goal so we can build healthier communities.
- What’s the target age for kids to participate in these workshops?
We started this program focusing on 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade kids.
- What are some of the topics that are taught on these workshops?
Some of the topics include: the importance of eating food of all colors, learn different examples of ideal balanced meals, which foods should we eat more of and which less of, and how to differentiate between a rainbow of healthy food and a rainbow of processed food.
- Do you have a goal as to how many schools do you want to visit, or how many kids do you want to sign in for the program?
Our goal is to work locally with the Ministry of Education in Panama to implement the program at the national level and include other organizations so we can have the most reach possible. We have already made the contacts and are waiting for all of this to become possible.
- How did students, teachers, and parents receive this initiative?
We started with the first workshop in the Montessori School of Panama. The acceptance from kids was incredible. The activity was considered a success by parents, and teachers. We will be implementing more workshops in other schools in the following months and we expect to have similar success.
- From all that is teach in the workshops, what is the most important piece of information that you would like kids to learn?
I thing that at such a young age it’s important to show kids that healthy food can be delicious and fun and that nature offers us a healthy option for all cravings we might have. There is so much incorrect and confusing information about food today that we should focus on real, natural food that comes from the soil or that has being alive. It doesn’t have to do anything with counting calories, but with eating food that will do our body good.
Thank you Beatriz for this interview and for inviting me to be part of this project. I love to be part of this program that will contribute to a generation of children that are more informed and conscious about which food choices will allow them to live a healthier, fuller and happier live. Thanks to all readers for being here. Let me know in the comments below if you want to know more about this type of events or if you would like these workshops at your kids’ school.