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Making Better Food Possible On and Off the Field

We’ve partnered with Special Olympics Canada to help more Canadians with intellectual disabilities, and their loved ones, Eat Better, Feel Better and Do Better. Together, Special Olympics Canada and Sobeys Inc. Better Food Fund will provide thousands of Canadians with intellectual disabilities—from two-year-olds to adults—as well as their families, caregivers and coaches access to nutrition guides, cooking classes and fresh, accessible food.

Here’s How We’re Working Together

Sobeys employees are sharing their passion for better food and bringing this exciting partnership to life in hundreds of neighbourhoods across Canada. Based on feedback and ideas from employees and Special Olympics provincial chapters, we have developed two programs focused on nutrition education:

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  1. Better Food Nutrition Sessions: Sobeys employees have signed up to lead nutrition sessions with Special Olympics that focus on quick and easy recipes, cooking skills and nutrition support. The hands-on, fun and interactive sessions share ideas, information and tips on how to incorporate better food as well as how to quickly and easily prepare healthy snacks and meals. Special Olympics athletes, coaches and caregivers will be encouraged to sign up and attend. Topics include; quick and easy recipes, foods to avoid, portion control and hydration. Sessions will begin in the following communities in March, 2017.
    • Victoria, BC Lower Mainland, BC
    • Edmonton, Alberta Calgary, Alberta
    • Winnipeg, Manitoba
    • Dartmouth, Nova Scotia Stellarton, Nova Scotia
    • Greater Toronto, Ontario
  2. Better Food Store Experiences: Stores across our wide and diverse retail network have been selected to lead tours for Special Olympics athletes, coaches and caregivers on topics such as eating healthy on a budget and how to navigate a grocery store. These interactive and informative Better Food Store Experiences will begin in April, 2017.
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Building Better Food Champions

About Our Partnership

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About Sobeys Inc. Better Food Fund

The vision of the Sobeys Inc. Better Food Fund is to help more Canadians - regardless of income, age or ability - have access to affordable wholesome food, basic cooking skills and nutrition education.

About Special Olympics Canada

In Canada, 40,000 athletes and 19,000 volunteers participate in daily programs and competitions across 12 provincial/territorial chapters and in over 450 communities. They offer sport skill training in 18 different summer and winter sports. For those whose ambitions follow a competitive path, Special Olympics offers competitive opportunities at the local, regional, national and world levels.

While many know Special Olympics from their games and competitions, this incredible organization is so much more than games. They provide resources that focus on basic motor skill development such as the Active Start and Fundamentals programs, for ages 2 to 12. Each day of the week, in small towns and large cities you can find a Special Olympics program at a school gym, on a soccer field, in the skating arena, at the pool or the curling rink.

We are very proud that Sobeys employees are Special Olympics athletes or have a loved one involved in the organization. We continue to hear inspiring stores from customers who also benefit from Special Olympics in their community.

How We Can Help

Canadians with intellectual disabilities live with the realities of serious health conditions. Fifty percent are likely to experience obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. In addition, health services can be ill-equipped to educate, diagnose and treat people with intellectual disabilities, leading to increased risk and challenges. Proper nutrition education is critical to reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Through our research and work with Special Olympics, we’ve learned that athletes and their caregivers face many obstacles that stand in the way of healthy eating habits. Challenges such as:

  • Additional concerns and stresses resulting in a lack of available time in the day
  • More prone to obesity and as a result require increased diligence on nutrition
  • Dietary restrictions based on medical conditions
  • Trouble understanding nutrition labels and navigating through a grocery store
  • Lack of understanding that eating healthy on a budget is possible – even when faced with healthcare needs and the realities of living on a fixed income

Athletes, caregivers, volunteers and Special Olympics employees have asked us to help with:

  • Nutrition education for caregivers and athletes
  • No-cost cooking classes
  • Access to affordable, healthy food

Our Better Food Commitment

In addition to nutrition education, we are working together to create new ways to make better food and proper nutrition a priority in Special Olympics programs from coast to coast. We will inspire the Special Olympics organization along with athletes, caregivers, coaches and volunteers. Below are a few examples.

Tackle the Incidence of Obesity Rates Among Athletes

Through better food choices and a commitment to change, we will implement a pilot that will focus on decreasing the Body Mass Index (BMI) of select Special Olympics athletes. Focus and efforts will begin in a Year One pilot with the National Team Training Program and two community floor hockey teams. More information coming soon!

Better Food Policy

Together we’ll create a Better Food Policy for its largest competitions, namely Provincial/Territorial Games and National Games. The policy would include guidelines on the food and beverages available and offered for meals and snacks (i.e. fat, sugar, sodium targets). Healthy food options will be front and centre for athletes and volunteers at Provincial and National Games. More information coming soon!

Better Food Pledge

A Pledge will serve to inspire and encourage a commitment to make better food choices throughout the organization and at the grassroots level. The pledge will available on the Special Olympics Canada website. More information coming soon!

Events

We’ve launched a new soup in support of Special Olympics Canada! Visit your local Sobeys, Safeway or Foodland store and pick up the delicious Sensations by Compliments Creamy Mexican Style Black Bean Chipotle Soup. .25 cents from each sale will support programs in your local Special Olympics provincial chapter.

I have a brother with an intellectual disability and I know the importance of his involvement in things like music, athletics, and other activities. It helps give him a sense of achievement and purpose. I also think that nutrition and food in general is important to everyone - and I'm glad that Sobeys has partnered in a way that strikes so close to home.
  • Jillian Sobeys Employee, Alberta

Our Volunteers

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From what I have read, there is a lack of knowledge about good food nutrition in the Special Olympics community. Who better to help close that gap than a company whose purpose is all about helping Canadians eat better, feel better and do better?
  • Carrie
As a single parent I learned to cook nutritious meals for my kids with primarily preservative free ingredients. I would like to be able to help people make the most of their plate and help it be more enjoyable than a task.
  • Jeannine
I have a son with special needs and no matter how many times I tell him he needs to eat healthier, he never seems to remember and always goes to quick processed food. If I can assist and inspire some people on the importance of nutrition and give some simple but yummy solutions then I would be so happy; for them and for myself. All people deserve to eat good quality food and if we can give some advice and some skills to some amazing individuals I think that is a noble cause. Some people need a little more assistance than others, and that's ok. I couldn't be prouder of Sobeys with us getting involved with Special Olympics. It is important that all people be given access to good food and if we can teach them long term skills so much the better. I have always been proud to work for Sobeys but this has brought my loyalty and pride to a new level. Yay Sobeys!!
  • Carol
If a leader in the community such as Sobeys can lend a helping hand to improve lifestyle around food & nutrition, I believe a difference will be made. And I want to be part of that! The more people who are involved with educational partnerships like this, the more we will all rise up & treat everyone better in society :)
  • Erika

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why was Special Olympics chosen as a national partner of the Better Food Fund?

Research shows that people with intellectual disabilities face serious adverse health risks. Fifty percent of people with intellectual disabilities are more likely to experience obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Nutrition education is critical to reducing the risk of chronic disease. Special Olympics Canada has over 80,000 community members involved in their organization in hundreds of communities across the country. Their grassroots commitment to the local community and to creating healthier Canadians is a great fit!

2. When it comes to healthy food, what kind of challenges do people with disabilities and their loved ones face?

Access to information and resources can be limited. People with intellectual disabilities face many challenges and the necessity for increased diligence on nutrition is important. We know that eating healthy is possible when "how to" information is made available.

3. What will the partnership support?

Together, we will provide nutrition education and cooking skills in Special Olympics programs across the country. We’ll make this possible by offering Better Food Nutrition Sessions. In addition, pre-selected stores will lead Better Food Store Experiences in select markets across the country. By 2019, it is our goal to reach over 20,000 athletes, caregivers and coaches.

4. What topics will be covered in the Better Food Nutrition Sessions?

There will be a series of lesson plans for the Better Food Nutrition Sessions. Sessions will cover the following topics: how to choose healthy food, discovering fresh and healthy food, how to shop healthy on a budget and easy recipes. Volunteer facilitators will be trained on the lesson plans created by Special Olympics and Sobeys.

5. How will the partnership support the provincial chapters of Special Olympics?

We are identifying additional ways to help at the local level. This includes events and initiatives in the regions where we operate. To date, employees and stores across the company have planned BBQ's, community events and fundraisers in support of their local chapter.

6. How much is the Better Food Fund donating to Special Olympics Canada?

Our total commitment to date is more than $900,000. We know that there are many unique ways that we can grow this partnership. We are working with local leaders in the Company to create a roadmap with opportunities to advance our efforts on a regional level.

7. Is Special Olympics the same as Paralympics?

The Paralympic Games mirrors the Olympic Games with the exception that it features athletes with physical disabilities in sporting events catered to their abilities. Paralympic athletes may have physical disabilities that impede their mobility.

Special Olympics is a grassroots community organization that welcomes neighbours with intellectual disabilities of all ability levels to participate in sport and mobility programs. There are local, provincial, national and international competitions for those who wish to compete however Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, in hundreds of communities across Canada.

8. I’m an employee with Sobeys and I would like to get involved. How can I help?

Thanks for your interest in helping to make better food possible on and off the field for Special Olympics! Please contact us at betterfoodfund@sobeys.com to learn more.

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