THE CHANGE is in good food!
The mission of Ekaterina Yosifova and Nataliya Alexandrova from the About Food foundation is to make sure all kids at home, in the kindergarten, at school and in the restaurant eat nutritious and high quality food. Because they know that good diet is at the bottom of good health and is key for the kids' physical and mental development.
Ekaterina holds an MBA and has long-year professional experience in Bulgaria and abroad in the field of strategic marketing and healthy eating. Nataliya is a business development and marketing consultant in the energy sector. The two of them met in the fall of 2016, when their kids entered school. This is when Ekaterina and Nataliya clashed with the reality of kids' diet in schools. Each of them started separately their individual daily battle with pastries and school kiosks offering foods high in sugar and no healthy alternatives. They gradually realized they would not be able to make a change independently and got in contact with nutritionist and cooking blogger Magi Pashova, and with Elena Stoeva – an ambassador of the global movement Food Revolution in Bulgaria (Food Revolution is established by English chef Jamie Oliver). Together, they decided to organize the first national-level Food Revolution Day campaign.
In just two months with the help of social networks they were joined by many mothers dedicated to the same cause. In May 2017, with the help of over 100 volunteers, they organized free cooking workshops for 1,000 kids from 18 cities and towns. A month later, they set up the About Food foundation, which currently unites volunteers from across Bulgaria – medical doctors, nutritionists, teachers, lawyers, professionals in various fields, but most of all – parents, united by the cause of securing healthy diet for children in Bulgaria.
THE CHANGE they want to achieve:
The About Food Foundation aims to promote nutritious and healthy food and build public awareness, because this is important on all levels: among children, their parents, teachers, institutions, etc. The foundation's focus is to provide accurate information about nutrition and help build the right eating habits both in children and in their parents and grandparents.
The recipe of a healthy diet can be very simple and easily available for all families: more fruit and vegetables, pulses and nuts, less dough and sugar, more home-made food shared with the family, less fast food in shiny packages.
Still, many parents are poorly informed about ways to make the right choice when it comes to their kids' diet, or fail to think about the effect a diet can have on their child's health. Children copy their parents, and seeing them as role models giving good personal example on a daily basis is extremely important – what they eat, what they drink, etc. The family influence on a child's development is not the only factor in this process – the environment in which they live and learn along with their friends, the society, and the media, is very important, too. The children who bring healthy home-made food in schools are often bullied by their classmates. Meanwhile, school kiosks and other places rarely give them a chance to buy high quality, healthy food. As a result, Bulgarian children are ranked fifth in the EU's obesity ranking – an average of one in three children in our country is overweight.
To resolve this issue people at About Food work in several directions. They believe that parents and grandparents need information and support to make the right diet choice for their children. There are also many teachers looking for interesting materials to help them achieve easier communication with the kids when it comes to their health. That is why About Food has developed a digital resource centre containing materials and practical knowledge on the topic of child diet. It will contain recipes, presentations and games for teachers, useful ideas for balanced diet and many more. Work on the materials in About Food has united dozens of medical doctors, nutrition experts, diet experts, culinary bloggers, chefs and many other specialists. In addition, lawyers are working on legal advice for parents who want to defend their children's rights to have access to high quality food in schools and kindergartens. Information in the digital resource centre will be available for free.
To change public attitudes to the children's eating habits and popularize the topic of healthy eating, About Food organizes an annual Food Revolution Day. Its two editions so far featuring free healthy eating workshops have been joined by over 4,000 kids and 450 volunteers from across Bulgaria. In 2019, apart from the third edition of the Food Revolution Day in May, the foundation will also work on setting up a About Food club to encourage and unite restaurants to offer healthy child menus.
Last but not least, About Food is in active correspondence with institutions and offers professional analysis and proposals for legislative changes when it comes to child diet, the free snack programme in schools, the recipe books used in schools and high control when it comes to the food offered in school kiosks.
About Food supports and unites the efforts of everyone who wants Bulgarian children to eat right. Because they know that it is up to all of us – parents, teachers, experts, chefs, trainers, celebrities - to raise a healthy generation free of chronic diseases.