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Frieda's Specialty Produce - Power Bowl

Eating by Example

As an employer, I always wonder what should or could be my role in helping the people who work for Frieda’s make healthier food choices.

It’s kind of a difficult position to be in.

When people join a company, they don’t expect to have their employer help them make better food choices. But this has been something I’ve been struggling with for a number of years.

Like most companies, we have a community lunchroom—with vending machines. One has refrigerated beverages, offering Coke, Pepsi, iced tea, and water. The other one has salty snacks and candy.

For more than five years, my sister and business partner Jackie and I have toyed with the idea of finding healthier options to offer our employees.

What if we removed all the sugary beverages from the machine, and only offered water and natural juices?

Or how about replacing the current snack machine, with one that only offers fresh fruits and veggies, and other healthy snack foods?

When I mention this to some of my colleagues here at Frieda’s, I get an enormous amount of push back.

“The employees will revolt if they can’t get their full-sugar sodas.”

“They are spending their own money, so why should we care?”

“It’s not our place to mandate what they can choose as snacks.”

So it was with great interest that I read a recent article from Bloomberg: “5 Things Businesses Can Do to Fight Obesity.” Here’s what was recommended:

  1. Fix the food in the workplace.
  2. Help employees meet their goals.
  3. Make it easy for customers to eat well.
  4. Consider the community.
  5. Change the food supply.

The article points to places like The Cleveland Clinic (which obviously is all about getting people well) that offered fast food in their cafeteria. They removed deep fryers from their kitchens and changed their food offerings to healthy ones. They made it easier to buy bottled water. They decided that if employees want to drink sugary drinks, they had the choice to bring them from home.

So, what I’ve been thinking about doing at Frieda’s includes:

  1. #Eatingbyexample and jumping into our industry initiative by offering—free of charge— fresh fruits and veggies in the company lunchroom for our employees to snack on.
  2. Changing out the choices in our vending machines to offer only non-sugar-filled beverages.
  3. Installing an additional vending machine with healthy snacks, where the cost will be subsidized by Frieda’s as a way to encourage employees to make healthier choices.
  4. Setting a deadline (perhaps the first day of summer?) for when the sugary snack machine will be removed and replaced with the healthier choice vending machine.
  5. Offering healthy-eating cooking classes at Frieda’s to educate our employees on how to make healthier choices at home for themselves and for their families.

So, obviously we’re talking about “walking the walk.” How can I, in good conscience, say my company is committed to changing the way people eat fresh fruits and veggies, if I don’t start making those same choices available right at my own company?

And the same thing applies to each of you. When you have a party at your house, is everything high fat and sugar? Or do you always offer healthy options like fresh fruits and veggies? Each of us has the option of creating healthier choices for our friends and family.

So, my challenge to you is to be a good example.

Think about it.



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