Inspiring Student Wellness through Education

Martin Lapointe
About the author : Martin Lapointe

Senior Vice President - Sodexo Campus Canada

Published on : 6/20/22
  • Nutrition plays a crucial role in our children’s development and growth. It fuels their body and their mind and helps them enhance their overall performance. If there is one thing that we have all learned during the last couple of years, is that food is the one thing that brings people together around a table three times a day. It could be through a quick breakfast in the morning while parents are getting ready for work and bringing their kids to school; or as kids sit down together at lunchtime at school, right before they spend their energy at a sporting event or band practice. The way they fuel themselves has an impact on their ability to perform future activities.

    In 2021, Sodexo Campus launched and implemented Powering Performance for its K-12 schools. We strongly believe that as a food service organization, we have the obligation of not simply making high-quality food available to young people. It is as important to provide information about making appropriate food and drink choices.

    Sodexo used statistics and scientific research to support its program and education initiative. Overall, 78% of Canadian youth look at food labels to see what’s in the food they eat (1). Furthermore, 91% of Canadians believe food literacy should be taught in school (2). Finally, 70% of Canadian parents want to provide their children with healthy food options (3). This data strongly demonstrates that there is an increased need for nutritional education in schools and that organizations have an obligation to provide tasty healthy meals to our kids.

     

    Powering Performance is based on four central pillars

    • Focus: to sharpen minds and provide mental endurance
    • Strengthen: to grow and fortify healthy bodies
    • Sustain: to give stamina for everyday demands
    • Recover: to mentally and physically rejuvenate

     

    With more than 100 recipes that were specifically developed for the program and fit within each pillar, Sodexo created a program that directly impacts the health of over 6,000 kids in 8 schools across the country.

    To add value to the program, education played a crucial role. We worked with two brand ambassadors to support and help teach children about healthy eating through virtual and live sessions.

    Melissa Hardy, Sodexo Campus Canada’s Sports Dietitian, helped develop our program through nutritional research, adapting our recipes to the four central pillars, and created nutritional educational material and statements for each pillar.

    Beet the competition: Beets and leafy greens provide nutrients that help working muscles take up more oxygen, which may help you move faster and for longer.

    Melissa not only helped develop the program but also met students and parents virtually to discuss the benefits of healthy eating and spoke about nutrition myths. Her knowledge, experience and ability to verbalize the key messages to various age groups were recognized by our client:

    The importance of nutrition plays a key role in the healthy development of students feeling their best. Thank you, Chef Neil, Melissa Hardy, and Sodexo Campus Canada, for your dedication and support in introducing Powering Performance to York House School! Both parents and students benefited from this workshop led by Melissa Hardy- a Registered Dietician and female athlete. Melissa is knowledgeable and passionate about student wellness by empowering our students and their families to develop and optimize nutritional choices. Throughout the workshop, parents were engaged from beginning to end on how their children can reach their full potential in their health and well-being, academics, and sports performance with the Powering Performance program, says Carolyn Green, Head of Junior School- York House School.

     

    Laurent-Duvernay-Tardif

    Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, 2020 Super Bowl Champion, graduate of medicine, and brand ambassador for Powering Performance, met with 1,100 students on-site and virtually between the months of March and May 2022. He helped convey the message of using healthy eating to improve mental and physical well-being and spoke about his experiences as a professional elite athlete, but also as a student-athlete. His message was clear: healthy eating helped him perform in both aspects of his life but also, he needed to accomplish both his professional football career as well as his medical degree to live a balanced life, physically and mentally.

    Our brand ambassadors met over 1,200 students and parents this year with the simple goal of educating them about the importance of healthy eating and a healthy balanced lifestyle between school and physical activity.

     

    2022 Grands Prix DUX Finalist

    Powering Performance was recognized by the Jury for the following points in two categories: best communication program/training and best communication program, the public’s vote: 

    • Great communication tools for kids
    • Excellent mission
    • Strong brand ambassadors that understand both education, nutrition, and well-being
    • Ease of use and understanding of the 4 pillars

     

    Our clients and potential clients stated that the program supported their mission and helped deliver a message of healthy eating in their institutions. Our clients even had the following to say about the program:

    The Powering Performance program is an outstanding tool that provides our student-athletes and coaches the opportunity to be very intentional about their nutritional choices. This resource targets specific foods that will help optimize athletic performance and identifies the benefits of healthy eating, says Lou Cafazzo, Director of Athletics, Appleby College.

    By establishing a relationship with Powering Performance, we can ensure that our student-athletes will be properly prepared both from a strategic and nutritional approach. This will enhance their strength, stamina, and overall athletic ability, says Mike Maurovich, Athletic Director, Selwyn House.

    Sodexo Campus’s goal for K-12 students is to provide key messages about healthy nutrition through our partnerships. School dining facilities are an excellent place to do that, as well as through our brand ambassadors. By providing young people with easy-to-understand messages about the influence of dietary choices on personal health, well-being, academic attainment and sports performance during the school day, we can help them make choices in the present that will also have consequences for their futures.  

    We are committed to providing our team’s experience to build innovative educational tools and creative appetizing menus for the school communities that we serve to help support our partnerships and our youth’s growth. We are dedicated to continually adapting programs and services in a way that best meets student wellness needs.

    To learn more about Sodexo Canada Campus, please get in contact with our experts.

    (1) The Human Project, Zeno Group, 2016.
    (2) Dalhousie University, Agri-Food Analytics Lab “COVID Food Literacy”, February 2021.(3) Healthy Eating in Ontario: What do we Know?, Nutrition Resource Centre, 2017.