Since October 23, 2019, the women receiving Olo’s follow-up care can receive vouchers to exchange against bags of Arctic Gardens brand frozen vegetables.
For the first time in 28 years, Fondation Olo is introducing a food that has a new “purpose,” namely to encourage families to eat more vegetables, more often. This choice made by Fondation Olo is facilitated by a new partnership with the company Bonduelle.
Providing vegetables is an excellent way to encourage families to eat well and to cook: two behaviours targeted in the Olo approach to adopting healthy eating habits. Knowing that such habits are established during the first 1,000 days of life and that parents’ choices influence those of their children, we consider it important to encourage eating healthy foods like vegetables early on in life.
Why frozen vegetables?
Frozen vegetables were selected because they offer several advantages:
- Nutritional quality comparable to fresh produce
- Wide selection of vegetables and vegetable mixes
- Year-round accessibility
- Availability in food stores across Quebec
- Cost that is relatively low (for instance, compared to frozen fruit) and predictable
- Consistency with Olo’s messages, considering that vegetables feature in the recipes and other educational tools developed by Fondation Olo
The new Olo coupons are redeemable for bags of Arctic Gardens brand frozen vegetables of 500 to 750 g. Women receiving Olo follow-up care can receive the equivalent of one bag of vegetables per week.
Advances in nutrition knowledge
The Olo food trio (eggs, milk, orange juice) had basically stayed the same since Olo was created in 1991. But, with advances in nutritional knowledge and changes in the profile of Olo clients, some observations made us question the inclusion of orange juice in our food offering.
To support Olo in its thinking on this matter, the expert committee on nutrition and perinatality looked into the pertinence of having orange juice in the trio of foods for expectant mothers.
Some of the key observations included issues impacting on the health of pregnant women and babies, such as increases in:
- Obesity and excess weight in women of childbearing age
- The percentage of women with excessive weight gain in pregnancy, particularly those living in a situation of poverty or food insecurity
- Gestational diabetes rates
- The consumption of free (added) sugars over and above the limit recommended by the World Health Organization for the overall population
There were also other observations that prompted Fondation Olo to review its food trio:
- People in general, and particularly the most vulnerable, do not eat enough unprocessed or minimally processed vegetables and fruits.
- Even though 100% pure juices contain vitamins and minerals, fresh fruits have more nutritional value, contain more fibre and are more filling.
- Today, vitamin C deficiency is infrequent in women benefiting from the Olo follow-up, and even in the population in general.
- The new Canada’s Food Guide (2019) recommends limiting juice consumption and eating more vegetables and fruits.
Fondation Olo follows the recommendations issued by reference bodies like Health Canada and Quebec’s Institut national de Santé publique. Thus, we took these observations into account and transitioned away from orange juice to vegetables.
Getting used to the change
The introduction of vegetables is a significant change for families and for the practitioners who support them. Fondation Olo is aware of this and has prepared tools to make this transition easier. Many of these tools, including recipes, can be found in the new section on frozen vegetables on its blog
Over the coming months, the Fondation Olo team will be very attentive to the reaction of parents and practitioners. It will pay close attention to any obstacles encountered and document what it learns.
Also, Fondation Olo does not exclude the possibility that, in the future, new initiatives could be added to the offering of frozen vegetable vouchers, to make it easier for families to eat fresh vegetables and fruits every day, which would help them adopt healthy eating habits early on in life.
Bonduelle, partner and benefactor
In summer 2019, Fondation Olo reached a first agreement with the company Bonduelle, which markets Arctic Gardens products. This French company that uses local vegetables shares Olo’s values and messages about healthy eating.
This first agreement between Fondation Olo and Bonduelle establishes the basis of a partnership we hope will grow.
Olo is pleased that this generous agreement helps make its new food trio a reality. We offer our new partners our warmest thanks for its commitment to Olo’s mission.