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Wellington City Council's Nutritious November

The Wellington City Council takes wellbeing seriously in all its worksites, whether the main council buildings, recreation, parks and sports areas, libraries and community centres, as well as those who work on Wellington’s streets.

For its 1700 staff split across the various sites, the council has a wellbeing strategy that highlights four main themes: heart health, emotional and social wellbeing, musculoskeletal, and drug, alcohol and smokefree issues. The wellbeing strategy is run by the council’s Wellbeing Group, which the council’s Wellbeing Advisor, Trish Knight, describes as “a highly motivated group of people”.

The Wellbeing Group declared a “Nutritious November” in 2014 and came up with four events to get employees thinking about eating healthy food as summer approached.

Nutrition workshop

The Wellbeing group organised a nutrition workshop aimed at educating its people to think more deeply about the food they eat. They invited a clinical diabetes nurse specialist to talk about the relationship between food and diabetes. She was joined by an economist to discuss the food environment and what the marketing and manufacturing industries try to make us do, think and buy.

“It worked so well,” says Trish. “Both speakers were entertaining and knew their subject, so they got people talking and debating. It wasn’t long after Nigel Latta’s sugar programme and people were really interested and engaged in the topic.

“We had 80 people come and we had to turn more people away. People were immediately asking when I was running another workshop, so there’s clearly a lot of interest there!”

My Morning Tea Rules

The council also ran a “My Morning Tea Rules” initiative to encourage healthy morning teas. The challenge was for teams across the organisation to email in photos of their colourful, varied, creative morning teas. The council CEO and two directors then judged whose morning tea was the most creative, nutritious and wholesome.

The challenge was offered up to staff through the council’s internal communication pathways. “We advertised the competition showing our CEO and two directors in ‘My Kitchen Rules’ outfits. We had 150 people get involved over the week, with ten teams competing. I’m in Human Resources, and we made vegetable/fruit animals and people. Everyone got into the spirit of it. It was good team building, too.”

The prize for the winning team? A large box of juicy, delicious fruit and vege – a fitting reward!


Bomb the vending machines

Aimed at making people rethink their choices when they visit the vending machine – or rethink the choice to even go to the vending machine – the Wellbeing Group decided to “Bomb the Vending Machines.”

“We didn’t want to stop people using it but we wanted them to just be aware of the choices they made when they’d go there,” says Trish. “We bought a load of fruit from a local supplier and dropped boxes of fruit in front of all council vending machines. Then we covered part of the front of the machines with danger tape, adding signs saying ‘Rethink your Choices’. People could still access the machines, but as a healthier option they could take delicious, free fruit instead.

“We had a few business units emailing in photos of themselves eating the fruit, and the free food soon went!”


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