According to the World Health Organization, “Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival…and women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.”1 At ofi, we want to ensure working mothers have the opportunity to continue breastfeeding when they return to work. Without having to choose between one or the other. As such, breastfeeding support is an essential part of the workforce nutrition programs we are developing.
In 2021, with support from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, ofi began the roll-out of the Workforce Nutrition Alliance’s Workforce Nutrition Scorecard to assess our workplace nutrition programs and tackle issues related to malnutrition across workplaces globally. Last year, ofi’s cashew teams in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Vietnam reviewed their collective experience and set a target which is now stated in their global sustainability strategy Cashew Trail; by 2030, “100% of ofi employees in processing facilitates have access to support related to nutrition programs”. This includes initiatives across four pillars: healthy food at work, nutrition education, nutrition-focused and breastfeeding support, and resources for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers”.
In Vietnam, where less than one quarter of infants aged 0 to 5 months are exclusively breastfed2, our Nuts teams launched an initiative last year focused on improving conditions for breastfeeding. All 11 of our Nuts processing facilities have been equipped with private, dedicated lactation rooms with milk pumps and freezer storage.
Since then, the initiative has grown and the team is now partnering with NGO and subject-matter experts Alive & Thrive, on a comprehensive workplace lactation program. In the first year, activities will support over 2,500 female employees and their families especially the pregnant and breastfeeding mothers with counseling sessions, sensitization and education opportunities, expert assistance, and workshops.
The Alive & Thrive team is currently collecting baseline data and will conduct an assessment in 2023 to assess the program’s impact over the next 3 years. Among the many anticipated benefits, the program is expected to improve health outcomes for both mother and child, increase knowledge and uptake of breastfeeding best practices, improve employee retention, reduce absenteeism, and increase overall employee satisfaction.