Employee nutrition program

Employee Wellness: Creating a nutrition program for your employees

Providing food for your employees might seem like an intimidating prospect when considering the added costs while in hindsight, your organisation will actually profit in numerous ways. More importantly, it’s a much needed humanitarian act as the coronavirus pandemic has increased levels of food insecurity in the country. A good number of your employees are providers for urban households and were likely struggling pre-pandemic. These households have to now cater to children at home and a reduced salary post-pandemic. The closure of certain borders also caused a spike in commodity prices. Households are likely skipping meals while others are starving. By implementing a nutrition program, you will not only be helping your employees but, you’ll be creating a happier, healthier, more productive workforce.

Why Instating an Employee Nutrition Programme Is Important

A nutrition program can have a significant difference in an employee’s overall health. If your employees are not eating or are skipping meals, they are not getting the nutrients they need to be at optimal health and are at risk of becoming sick. Providing them with nutrition will ensure they stay in good shape. It will potentially, save you a lot of sick leave days and employer health costs. Investing in employee wellness will ultimately save your organisation money.

Secondly, feeding programs make people happy. As per a Peapod survey, 67% of employees who worked at companies that had nutrition programs said they were extremely happy with their jobs. Food, fruits and vegetables, have been especially linked to good mood and improved mental health. Food literally makes people happy. A happy workforce is more productive which will translate to an increased bottom line. Additionally, employee satisfaction will help you retain staff and save you the costs and time it takes to hire new workers. 

Thirdly, food increases worker focus and creativity. According to a publication in the British Journal of Health Psychology, the brain operates best when there is 25 g of glucose in the bloodstream. This amount can be provided by a single banana or a bowl of cereal. Should you provide such, your employees will be more engaged, focused, and energetic.

Nutrition programs additionally build an attractive work culture and good PR. Employees will view it as a very huge perk.

Best of all you can implement a feeding program for your esteemed employees without investing an obscene amount provided you go about it in a smart way. You can spend as little as Ksh 250 – Ksh 500 per week for a family of four. That is inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also provide 2 meals a day if you’re operating on a tight budget.

How To Develop An Effective Nutrition Program

Here is an of how to create a working nutrition program with a Ksh 500 per week per household (4 people) allocation based on Nairobi’s World Food Programme Initiative.

  1. DETERMINE WHAT TYPE OF NUTRITION PROGRAM YOU WANT

You have 3 options:

a. You can decide to create a fund and allocate money to staff on a weekly basis.

b. You can also distribute foodstuff to the households of individuals in the program. It would be wise to partner with community-supported agriculture groups who will give you great deals and whose produce is mostly organic. You can also source products straight from farms. According to Standard Media, a cabbage at a farm in Nyandarua goes for Ksh 24 but you will buy it at Ksh 80 in Nairobi.

c. Another alternative is carryout meals. You can pack meals in boxes and employees can pick them up as they go home.

  1. DECIDE ON MEALS OR MENUS TO BE GIVEN

A good meal should consist of a staple, a bit of unsaturated fat, veggies or fruits and a stew/ sauce/ relish according to FAO. Meals can also be planned according to need because different people have different dietary needs. Pregnant ladies, for example, need more iron-rich foods compared to men who need more starch from staples and legumes.

Recommended foods that will help you stick to the Ksh 250 to Ksh 500 allocation include green grams, potatoes, vegetables, low-cost fruits like bananas, whole grains, starchy tubers, spaghetti, eggs, rice, all-purpose flour, oatmeal, lentils, beans, and bread. Surprisingly, if properly planned, the same monetary allocation could include meat and even seafood.

What can a good nutrition program include?

If you do decide to give out meal boxes to your employees every week, here is an example of what you can include. Remember it’s advisable to buy things in bulk, e.g sacks, and then divide it among your employees. This will save you a lot on costs. For 500/= a week you can provide breakfast for 5 days and 10 lunch and supper meals to a family of four in Nairobi, consisting of:

Breakfast

  • 1 ½ litres milk – Ksh 39. A litre of milk from a dairy farmer is Ksh 26. This could cover 3 different breakfasts assuming they use 500ml per day.
  • ¼ kg sorghum- Ksh 26 or ¼ kg millet -Ksh 15. This is enough to make porridge for at least 2 days.
  • 1/4 kg of green maize. This can be boiled or roasted. A kilo goes for Ksh 18 if bought in bulk so this will cost the company about Ksh 4.5 per employee.

Lunch and Dinner

They could use the following foods to make several meals like ugali Sukuma, rice and beans, githeri, rice and peas, ugali and cabbage, ugali and eggs, rice and green grams, mukimu, rice and potatoes and so on.

  • 2 kg of maize to be milled for ugali flour – Ksh 74. A 90kg bag of maize costs Ksh 3330 meaning if bought in bulk a kilo should cost you about Ksh 37. 2 kilograms of maize is enough for at least 4 meals.
  • 1/2 kg of tomatoes- Ksh 15 .Vegetables at the farmers market Kenya retail for Ksh 30/ kg.
  • 250g cooking fat- Ksh 24.5. 10kgs of cooking fat cost roughly Ksh 980 if bought in bulk.
  • ½ kg rice –  Ksh 43. Rice goes for an average of Ksh 85 per kg and ½ a kg could fit 2 meals.
  • ½ kg Potatoes – Ksh 25. A 50kg sack costs Ksh 2500 at the farmers market.
  • ¼ kg bulb onions – Ksh 19. A 13kg net goes for Ksh 1000. Alternatively, you can go for spring onions which cost Ksh 20 per kg. ½ a kg should be enough to cater for an entire week of cooking.
  • ¾ kg green maize- Ksh 13.5.  A 115kg sack of green maize sells at Ksh 2100.
  • ½ kg beans –  Ksh 30 bob for Mwezi Moja beans and Ksh 49 for Rosecoco. Alternatively, you can offer ½ kg peas which will cost you Ksh 29. This can cover 3 meals in the week and can be paired with staples such as rice and green maize for githeri.
  • ¼ kg Lentils – Ksh 37 or ¼ kg green grams-  Ksh 22
  • 4 Eggs at Ksh 40
  • 1 kg of assorted vegetables ( kale, cabbage, traditional veggies) – Ksh 30

Fruits

  • 1kg Pawpaw – Ksh 50 or ½ kg mangoes – Ksh 14.
  • ¼ kg oranges- Ksh 12 or ¼ kg bananas – Ksh 24. An orange can be divided by 4 and each member can get a slice. If this is the case, the ¼ kg of oranges could be distributed over 4 meals.

The prices listed are based on the latest surveys by Soko Directory and Farmers Market Kenya and represent the current cost of foodstuffs in the Nairobi market. Prices could fluctuate in different locations.

An effective nutrition program should meet the dietary needs of your employees. It’s not just about giving people food. The food should be healthy. A common misconception is healthy food is expensive. This is not necessarily true. So strive to provide employees with affordable but healthy food. You also need to ensure the food is safe and is distributed in a manner that prevents crowding to mitigate Covid-19 risks.

Ruth Kimani

Also see:

If you’re still optimistic that COVID-19 will come to a swift end and restore your regular business schedule, it’s time to re-evaluate the situation. Here’s a simple but detailed guide to help you streamline your business objectives with the COVID-19 landscape:

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