Meet Raluca, The Woman Bringing Food Education To Romanian KidsTue 29 Oct 2013
Story by Sarah Curl
Introducing our October Ambassador of the Month!
Ambassador of the Month is a feature that we’ve launched in order to highlight the amazing volunteers we have around the world. Ambassadors who have been chosen show an unwavering desire for change in their communities. They are fighting for real food and food education skills and donate their time every month to make this happen.
Raluca Vasile from Romania is this month’s Ambassador of the Month! Raluca (bottom left in the left hand photo) has been a Food Revolution Ambassador since July 2013 and is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. She is a certified nutritionist, vegan chef and brand consultant by vocation; and food blogger and Food Revolution Ambassador by mission. She is passionate about healthy cooking and wants to do good to change lives for the better. Please meet Raluca!
Tell us a little about why you wanted to get involved in the Food Revolution?
I grew up in a family where healthy food and education were main priorities during my childhood (my mother was a teacher). However, I only started cooking my first recipes during university, as I moved from my hometown in Constanta to the capital Bucharest for studies. Soon after, I realized that I love cooking and have a passion for a healthy lifestyle, but I never thought I could make a living out of this great passion for cooking, so I continued my career as a brand consultant.
However, this year I got my nutritionist certification and thought about becoming a vegan chef as a second job, working with schools cafeterias, gyms or restaurants. At the beginning of this summer I became a Food Revolution Ambassador, aiming to give back to my community what I had learned so far.
There is a general perception in Romania that we have healthy lifestyles, although a quarter of children in schools are overweight and a third are obese. This was not so 20 years ago when I was a child. A big problem is there is little to no education in terms of food and nutrition, and most state schools don’t have cafeterias. After extensive discussions with parents and schools’ management, I now believe nutrition should be introduced as curriculum in schools and that each state school should have their own cafeteria.
Recent research shows that most pupils in the first grade eat three meals a day and consume fizzy drinks every day. One of these meals is fast food and, combined with fizzy drinks, leads to obesity rates rising. This has to change, and we, the ambassadors in Romania, are working on that.
How has the Ambassador Program helped you accomplish your goals?
Being a Food Revolution ambassador opens many doors, though major changes don’t happen overnight. I started a creative-educational program on nutrition and healthy eating called “Pupils’ Snack” in schools and recreation areas, to which pupils responded with interest, creativity and involvement. They packed their sandwiches to take home and enjoyed being involved and more conscious about their health. The kids promised to do their own school snack each morning as well.
What have you been able to achieve since being an Ambassador?
In the past few months since being an Ambassador I have had many discussions with school managers, parents and authorities that give me courage that nutrition will be a part of the curriculum in our schools and food education will be part of our children’s lives.
What real food initiative are you currently working on in your community? How's it going?
“Pupils’ Snack” is to become a national program, as many chefs, bloggers and schools showed interest for implementing the creative-educational workshop. We will continue developing and diversifying it as to cover a variety of healthy snack options for children, mothers, fathers and families. Actually, parents were the most creative of all participants. So if they are into it, they are on our side. The next step is to create a program for adults in order to teach them how to cook from scratch.
We started this program in private schools, pupils’ party clubs and healthy gourmet restaurants. As so far, we are not allowed to enter the state schools, since most don't have an appropriate place to cook, not to mention a cafeteria. We are very optimistic that local authorities will support us in creating a national food education program and allow us to educate children to eat the healthy way, the way Jamie has been working in the UK, the USA and Australia.
We still have a long way to go but we know that things are possible with support!
Find out more about our Food Revolution Ambassador program and apply to become one here!
Find out more about Raluca and her Food Revolution in Bucharest, Romania here: @raramro
About the Author: Sarah Curl is the Food Revolution Community Manager for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.
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