In the ‘Cook & Learn Together’ campaign, Mars Belgium wants to encourage parents through the beloved Uncle Ben’s® brand to set to work in the kitchen and cook together with their child(ren). Because learning to cook is as crucial as learning to read and write. By cooking and eating together, children also immediately learn to ‘live in the moment’. A fun booster step tailored to children will be provided with the campaign in the store so that the children can also actively help. The campaign is a ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’-initiative of Mars Belgium and will run exclusively at Carrefour. This is a global pilot project that will be take place in Belgium first.

‘As the twig is bent the tree is inclined’: learning to cook is as important as learning to read and write

Teaching children about balanced and varied meals in a playful way by actively involving them in the cooking process – that is what ‘Cook & Learn Together’ is all about. Children learn a lot during these cosy family moments: they are introduced to a broader variation of ingredients and get to know the different flavors. Enjoying food and discovering new flavors: if children regularly go on culinary voyages of discovery with their parents from a young age then the path is paved to balanced eating habits in later life. Parents are often the most important role model in terms of nutrition. Parents should involve children in cooking and dining for that reason. If parents set a good example, children will usually follow automatically.

What you eat is not only important but also who you eat it with. Learning to ‘switch off’ and to live in the moment with people who matter.

Learning healthy eating habits (varied and balanced) is not the only important thing, lots of experts agree that it is more important than ever to include a family ‘time out’ where time is made really to be together and pay attention to each other. Where the TV, smartphone and tablet are switched off for a while to make and eat food together. It provides a cosy home, the ability to ‘live in the moment’ and especially great memories.

Expert Kaat Bollen describes it like this: “There is less and less real quality time between parents and their children. Today everything has to happen quickly and we are constantly distracted by the damned smartphone. And if parents do make time for their children, they often only do it with the corner of their eye. But cooking together can reinforce that emotional connection between parent and child again. It can be a moment when mum and/or dad create something with their child. Children often feel that they are a burden, but if you cook with them, you give them focussed attention and show them that are appreciated and that they are important. And you have to cook anyway, so that’s killing two birds with one stone. By consciously cooking with children, you teach them to live in the moment, so a type of mindfulness or meditation. That is an extremely useful skill in out hectic society.”

The campaign was inspired, among other things, by the results of a consumer survey by Mars Australia. This short video summarises it wonderfully: ‘Who do you want to have dinner with?’

The aim of this CSR initiative that is part of a global pilot project by Mars in Carrefour stores is to make it easier for parents to work in the kitchen with their children and cook together

Pierre Camé, General Manager Mars Belgium: “As a father of three children I think family time is crucial. Making the time to be together, cook together and eat together is very important to me, on the one hand to teach health and varied eating habits and on the other hand to enjoy cosy family moment with real attention to each other. We found a joint platform with our business partner Carrefour through the campaign “Cook& Learn together” that perfectly matches both of our sustainability strategies and in which we could create impact. I am overjoyed that we have been able to realise this project in the Carrefour stores to reach lots of Belgian families and encourage them to cook and dine together.”

Kim Smet, Sales Director Mars Belgium: “We strongly believe in strategic partnership with our retail partners around joint sustainability initiatives. We are thus very happy to give shape to the ‘Cook & Learn Together’- initiative in the stores of our business partner, Carrefour and we are also very proud that Belgium is the first in this. We also want to make this a local success so that we can roll it out in other countries at a larger scale in the coming months and years.”

Baptiste van Outryve, Director PR & Corporate Communication Carrefour Belgium: “We are delighted with the initiative by Uncle Ben’s to motive parents and children to cook together. Food transition and the balanced diet that Carrefour promotes through the “Act for Food” platform starts with sharing information between parents and their children. We are convinced that the fun booster step will motivate both to set to work in the kitchen and to eat healthily.”