28 Nov Misión Nutrición
Malnutrition is one of Colombia’s most serious public health challenges. Spearheaded by Ara, the Misión Nutrición programme emerged with the aim to contribute to a better nourished country. Andrea Jimeno, Corporate Communications Director at Ara, tells how the project is changing that reality.
Protocolary signature of the Misión Nutrición Project, presented on 8 September 2021 in Bogota. From left to right: María Juliana Ruiz, First Lady of Colombia; Pedro Leandro, CEO of Ara; Erika Rodríguez, Latam Director at The Consumer Goods Forum and Elisa Cadena, Nutritional Food & Beverages subdirector at the Ministry of Health of Colombia.
PROMOTING HEALTHY EATING HABITS
“Misión Nutrición, una selección de alimentos para nutrir a tu región.”, which means “Mission Nutrition, a selection of foods to nourish your region”. The slogan makes its mission clear: to combat malnutrition in Colombia. Malnutrition is a public health problem, made worse by a lack of quality information about healthy eating habits.
Ara spearheads this project, which is part of Gran Alianza por la Nutrición en Colombia (Colombia’s Grand Alliance for Nutrition), and is backed by The Consumer Goods Forum and the 5 al Día (5 a Day) programme led by Corporación Colombia Internacional (CCI) and with the technical advice of the Ministry of Health and the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF).
Aimed at the general public, but focusing primarily on the more vulnerable groups – children, young people and migrants – the campaign involves assessing the nutritional needs of the Central, Caribbean, Pacific and Orinoco regions. The campaign also focuses on the foods that can be used in each region to address these needs and that are sold in Ara stores.
The principles and goals of Misión Nutrición were shared in a campaign designed specifically for social media and included visual suggestions for healthy meals and some catchy rhymes related to the solution found to address each need: “Siéntete como nuevo, tomando el sol y comiendo huevo”, which means “Feel like new, sunbathing and eating eggs.” – promoting eggs as a food to tackle zinc deficiency. Misión Nutrición was launched in early September, in the presence of María Juliana Ruiz, first lady and leader of Gran Alianza por la Nutrición en Colombia. This alliance is aimed at mobilising public and private entities to implement initiatives that impact the eating habits of children and teenagers. The association of Jerónimo Martins Colombia with the initiative is a way of achieving its goal of fighting against a tragic reality – Colombia is below the World Health Organisation’s malnutrition threshold for children. Education and promoting a proper and balanced diet suited to each region will help improve the nutritional status of children and young people.
INTERVIEW WITH ANDREA JIMENO
CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AT ARA
This project arose from a collective will to make a difference. How did it start?
The nutritional situation of children and teenagers in Colombia largely depends directly on their food practices. Unfortunately, however, the country still suffers from problems such as chronic malnutrition, and a large number of children in the regions suffer from a lack of nutrients and proteins, which causes diseases. Given this outlook, the nature of our business and with the conviction that our sector has a fundamental role to play in being part of the solution to these problems, we asked ourselves: how can we contribute to changing this reality? In day-to-day conversations with our partners, we began to realise that we had a common purpose, that there was latent and shared concern for the nutrition of Colombian children.
Each one brought their expertise to the table and began to bring new friends who could contribute to the solution. Thus, the McCann advertising agency gave us the idea for a campaign; the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) and the Ministry of Health provided technical support for regional needs; the Consumer Goods Forum, its knowledge of education and awareness generation; 5 a Day, its knowledge of the nutritional contribution of fruit and vegetables and their production and consumption.
This project came into being in order to accomplish the goal of Jerónimo Martins to continue contributing to strengthening public policies in food and nutrition, being allies in projects that benefit and reinforce nutritional interventions, and anchoring ourselves in the commitment to reduce food waste. Always promoting the overcoming of nutritional deficiencies and the democratisation of access to top quality products at the best price, in the more than 20 departments where we operate.
Our leadership in the Misión Nutrición campaign and our association with the Great Alliance for Nutrition have prompted us to continue perfecting the partnerships already established with different entities, such as the agreement with the Colombian Food Bank Association to reduce food waste. In addition, we reinforced our joint work with the ICBF in the 1000 Days to Change the World programme, with the donation of food from the family basket to support children, young people and their families; as well as the alliance with Caritas Colombiana and Caritas Poland for humanitarian assistance through donations of food for migrants and vulnerable Colombians in the border area with Venezuela.
“This campaign came into being due to our intrinsic desire to contribute to a better nourished Colombia.”
Could you share a surprising story that resulted from this project?
There are many types of malnutrition and it is precisely this lack of awareness that amplifies the issue. In Colombia, excess weight is associated with health – like if babies are chubby, the parents may think they are eating well, but they might well be malnourished. Similarly, it is believed that malnutrition is due to the same causes or deficits throughout the country, but this is not necessarily the case. In some regions, the nutritional gap is related to a lack of zinc, in others a lack of iron, in others a lack of vitamin D. Therefore, there is no single solution or diet, rather these must respond to local needs and the availability of micronutrients.
What lasting impact do you expect this initiative to have on the future of communities?
Mainly, it is hoped that positive nutritional impacts will be generated for the vulnerable people in priority areas, creating awareness in all family members about the importance of a healthy diet and the nutritional needs of each region of the country. All this, while promoting food education that encourages consumers to buy healthy products and adopt healthy eating habits. To this end, beyond any investment, what is sought is to generate joint efforts for nutrition in the country through a compendium of projects and specific interventions that are supported by the goal of promoting good food supplements for children and their families.
The Misión Nutrición campaign came into being due to the intrinsic desire of Jerónimo Martins to contribute to a better nourished and healthier Colombia. The idea is to continue promoting strategies that will help reduce the nutritional deficit in vulnerable groups and contribute to food security through alliances with different entities from the public and private sectors, because a well-fed region promotes a better nourished country.