Maker of Roza sauce joins the Education Ministry in promoting health, hygiene programme in rural schools.
After starting off with a conventional marketing campaign 10 years ago, Hi-Q Food Products, the maker of Roza tomato sauce and related products, realised that it needed to change strategy if sustainability was the company’s ultimate goal.
From the campaign to promote its products mainly under “Roza” brand, the company turned that into a sustainable CSR programme – to promote sustainable eating habits among school students as well as their relatives.
“It was started off based on the fact that school students consumed less than four spoons of vegetable a day, though Thailand was dubbed as “the kitchen of the world,” said Suwit Wangpattanamongkol, marketing director.
“But from the tie-in campaign, which entailed nutrition contests and exhibitions, we know that it’s not sustainable. It’s like we put extra burden on teachers and we drew their support by offering prize money. Once they got the money, they had no further motivation to continue with the achievement. It was successful at schools where principals cooperated or at schools that got strong support from local administrative bodies. It flopped elsewhere.”
Three years ago, a sustainable health project was crafted, cashing in on past experiences. This time, the company joined hands with the Public Health Ministry, which wanted to promote students’ health. Knowledge from community hospitals in disease prevention, medicine and nutrition was availed. Under this scheme, where official certificates are issued, all principals and teachers want to cooperate to boost their schools’ image. The Education Ministry also supported the “Schools’ Path to Diamond-Level Health Promotion” project. Participating teachers are given extra scores in the annual evaluation.
“We realised that it’s better to support the government’s existing projects. In essence, this project was good, but it lacked knowledge and financial support. Under this project, it’s a win-win to all – schools, students and teachers,” Suwit said.
When joining the project, only two schools in Udon Thani won Diamond certificates while there was none in Nong Khai. Focus is placed on rural schools, starting with those in Nong Khai where the company has a large tomato plantation field. Hi-Q believes that Bangkok has a media overdose of this and many companies are involved in helping schools in the capital. Hence, it decided to focus on rural schools. In the first year, 20 schools in Nong Khai were selected for the project. In the second year, 24. This year, 20 were chosen.
“The scale matches our capacity,” Suwit said, adding that each year the company, with Bt2 billion revenue, spends about Bt4 million to Bt5 million on this project.
With the money, Hi-Q provides tutorial sessions and workshops at the schools. Teachers should be inspired to fully cooperate, without thinking that this is an extra burden. Five student leaders are picked to lead activities at a school. Others like school chefs are brought in, to know how to deliver tasty and nutritious food. Principals from certified schools are invited to give speeches while chiefs of regional education offices highlight the importance of the project.
Officials from the Health Department and empowerment experts are the speakers to explain key indicators to win the certificate. Funding is also arranged for needed materials, to ensure that all the schools can achieve all 19 requirements to win the Diamond certificates.
Some of the requirements include the need for proper exercise grounds, clean drinking water, clean sanitation, provision of food with proper portion of vegetables, the barring of salty or highly sweet snacks and beverages, health-promotion projects and accident prevention. In a year, it is mandatory that no student be hospitalised due to accidents at the school. Schools also need to come up with their own nutrition enhancement plans.
“We bring all parties involved into the process, inspiring them and showing them how good relationship could help in achieving the goal,” Suwit said.
During the year, Hi-Q and the Health Department jointly inspect progress. It was found that some schools passed 18 requirements but lacked funding to improve the condition of toilets. If they cannot finance the sanitation improvement by themselves, Hi-Q would step in.
“True development will be achieved if they help themselves first. Schools can first ask for funding from local administrative bodies. They can even organise a Kathin merit-making project to raise funds or seek donations. Funding from us will be the very last choice. This will guarantee sustainability of the project,” the director noted.
Suwit noted that it was necessary to ask recipients first what they needed. And there must be a system to observe how they are doing with the given money or equipment.
“Indeed, this principle could be replicated elsewhere. We have no intention to keep the knowledge from others. Other companies can adopt this, and it will benefit the companies, communities and society,” he concluded.