Cooking: Does it work … at work?

By Ginny (ginger chicken Uploaded by Partyzan_XXI)                        via Wikimedia Commons

At AIPM, we know that a healthy diet is a huge component of overall health and well-being. We’re also a small business. Our office kitchen does quadruple-duty as a coat room, a stock closet, and a copy center. Making it easier for employees to eat well during the work day is a topic that’s close to our hearts.

So yesterday, we were excited to discuss Cooking & Company (a project of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution) and other experiments for better food at work.

The gist? What if companies offer their employees:

  • Take-home kits for fresh, healthy, home-cooked meals, with fully prepped ingredients and a recipe — e.g., vegetable fajitas?
  • Cooking classes, led by local chefs or personal cooking consultants?
  • “Pop-up” community cooking events, like a singles night, wine tasting, or make-your-own-omelet breakfast stations?
  • A communal kitchen/cooking space at the office where employees can cook and eat together?

Are you thinking: Do we have the space? Who has a budget for this stuff? Will my boss sign-off? Fire hazards?

Yeah, we were thinking that too. But go ahead and download the free toolkit, and read it with an open mind. It includes plenty of flexible planning ideas to help you scale. Maybe you can:

  • Take advantage of a cooking class at an off-site community center?
  • Use designated employee break time (lunch seems natural)?
  • Instead of paying for a full-flight cooking program (or total office kitchen rehab!), subsidize take-home meal kits to offer to employees at an affordable price?

It was helpful for me to realize that this is about more than offering healthy options for your employees.

It’s about engagement.

Not just watching a cooking demonstration: actual, hands-on cooking. Not just grabbing  the least-unhealthy option in the vending machine: actively preparing a healthy meal with your co-workers, and building skills that employees can bring home to their families.

What do you think? How do you handle food at work? Would any of these Cooking & Company experiments work at your workplace? What have you tried to help employees make healthy, nutritious choices?

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