Problem: Prevalence of child obesity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with over a million obese or overweight children. Driving this rise in obesity is the availability and high consumption of fast food and sweetened drinks in school cafeterias. Although the Saudi authorities have introduced measures in recent years on combating obesity and other cardiovascular challenges related to HFSS, lack of coherence in enforcement and compliance has limited its success. Also, socio-economic and cultural factors including an early start of the school day (7 a.m.) hinders the ability of working parents to prepare healthy meals before dropping off their children at schoolkids.
Solution: A social enterprise that provides school children with healthy and delicious food to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the larger Middle East.
Goals and objectives: To combat childhood obesity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries by promoting healthy food and lifestyle, providing children with healthy and nutritious food choices, and creating a community of future healthy eaters.
Implementation: Upon return from Australia where she received a masters and Ph.D.in Health Services Management, Rihab Hasanain began researching school options for her two children and quickly identified problems with the school meal programs. She was particularly concerned by the health consequences of the high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) diets provided to children, leading to the doubling of obesity prevalence from 11.3 percent to 24.5 percent in just 14 years.
Responding to the child obesity epidemic in her country, Rihab Hasanain in 2016 started a public-private partnership with local school authorities and developed educational programs that encourage healthy eating habits, and provides school children with healthy, nutritious and delicious meal options. Within six months, Rihad had secured location, hired staff and completed the requisite logistics and regulations needed for starting a food catering business for children.
Blooming Bs is an all-women business with 20 employees originating from all over Saudi Arabia, enriching the tastes and recipes of its healthy menu for children whose parents are unable to prepare healthy meals daily.
Achievements: In its first year, Blooming Bs served 60,000 meals, and by the second year it had doubled the meals served to 120,000. Blooming Bs is also expanding its school 400 students and another that has more than 1,000,” Rihab says. “We are receiving requests for schools that have more than 2,000 students.
The company began with two employees and now expanded with more than 20 employees. As a women-only business operating during school hours, Blooming Bs provides opportunities to Saudi mothers who otherwise might not be able to work. “We are very convenient for women and mothers,” Rihab says. Employees can start work after they drop their kids at school and finish in time to pick them up. And Blooming Bs doesn’t require any particular education level or experience—just awareness of the issue and a passion for cooking.
Employees come from all corners of Saudi Arabia, bringing different tastes and recipes. This diversity of hiring has helped Blooming Bs create menus with options as varied as the staff’s geographical backgrounds. By providing a unified menu and healthy choices. Blooming Bs reduces food waste by ensuring that its food are attractive to the children it services.
Contact details: Rihab Abdulaziz Hasanain
Address: 7396 Al Yasmein Qurtubah, Riyadh 13244-3123, Saudi Arabia
Phone: +966 55 507 6508