Mondelēz school programs prove power in public-private collaboration, says researcher

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / monkeybusinessimages
© Getty Images / monkeybusinessimages
Mondelēz International Foundation's public-private partnership school programs are proof that collaboration with clear goals can be impactful in the push against childhood obesity, says a researcher.

Published in as a Food and Nutrition Bulletin ​and self-funded by Mondelēz International, ​the research article written by Rafael Pérez-Escamilla evaluated key factors that enabled  Mondelēz International Foundation (MIF)'s successful implementation of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in schools across the world.

$50m pledge with 'clear' primary goals

In March 2018, Mondelēz International Foundation (MIF) launched a series of healthy lifestyle school programs across 10 countries, including Argentina, through partnerships with local non-profit organizations. The goal was to bring about nutrition education, active play and fresh food to at-risk children and their families and added to ongoing programs in Brazil, Mexico, Germany and South Africa.

The programs were launched as part of MIF's $50m pledge to tackle obesity and promote healthy lifestyles across the globe.

Analyzing seven of the programs – in Brazil, Mexico, China, India, South Africa, Germany and United Kingdom – Pérez-Escamilla said there were some consistent factors behind the successful implementation. Importantly, he said all programs had a “clear definition of the primary goals” as well as “clear multi-sectoral governance structure”.

“Across all countries and programs, success is built on solid, transparent partnerships involving close consultation with government officials, school principles and teachers, parents, corporations, and other key stakeholders,” he wrote.

Within this clear structure, however, Pérez-Escamilla said the MIF PPP framework remained “quite flexible”, which left room for valuable innovation and ideas (like creating gardens out of recycled automobile parts or aquaponics) that could then be shared with others.

Value in a 'hands-off' approach

Analyzing potential conflict of interest, findings showed there was no evidence of concern as Mondelēz did not request branding and there were special efforts made to ensure all key stakeholders had 'a seat at the table' in the decision-making process.

“This is consistent, and very likely driven by the MIF 'hands-off' approach with regard to the community programs that it supports. For all the programs, there was solid evidence that all key stakeholders had clarity on and were in agreement with the program's priorities,”​ Pérez-Escamilla wrote.

MIF's involvement in each project centered around some important, guiding principles, he said, that should form the basis of future PPPs seeking to curb childhood obesity.

“What MIF did was to invest in helping organizations strengthen their program evaluation capacity. Indeed, the programs were strongly empowered to rely on continual monitoring of programmatic quality and effectiveness, transparency, and a curriculum that connects in a meaningful way with primary schoolchildren, their families and communities.”

Speaking to FoodNavigator-LATAM, Sarah Delea, senior director for global well-being and community involvement and president of Mondelēz International Foundation, said: “We see our role to help connect our partners with ideas and resources to make an impact. We know from experience ideas shared across can serve as international models for best practices.”

Asked what advice MIF would give to other food and beverage firms considering similar public-private partnerships, Delea said: “Invest in programs developed and managed entirely at the grass-roots level; and provide ways for your partners to share ideas and learnings.”

LATAM projects – Brazil, Mexico and Argentina

In Brazil, Mondelēz's Health in Action (HIA) program in partnership with INMED Partnerships for Children, INMED Brazil and the Institute of Sport and Education (IEE) aimed to promote sport and physical activity in low-income communities.

In Mexico, the Partnership for Child Well-being program (Alianza por el Bienestar de la Niñez) was designed to improve nutrition and physical activity amongst children aged 2-13 years. Spanning primary school children and preschoolers, the program was now in the initial stage of a four-year partnership with Save the Children Mexico.

MIF's most recent program in Argentina, kickstarted earlier this year with the Fundación Huerta Niño, had, so far, been rolled out across 120 schools - the primary aim being to build organic school gardens to teach kids about nutrition, drive physical activity and increase their consumption of fresh produce.

For more information about the foundation, please watch the following video: 

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