The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of community sports organisations to their local areas.
The unprecedented circumstances caused by this serious public health crisis in Europe and beyond has seen more and more individuals and families rely on such organisations for help and support – in particular, through access to food for older or vulnerable populations in lockdown periods introduced during the pandemic.
Following requests from across Europe by sports organisations actively involved in local community work – including national associations and football clubs – UEFA’s football social responsibility partner, the European Healthy Stadia Network, has developed a range of guidance materials for use by community sports organisations that may be supporting food banks and/or vulnerable members of their community.
UEFA and its FSR partners
UEFA is featuring the work of its football social responsibility partners during the current period in a series of special website articles.
Find out more about UEFA’s partners in the 2018/19 UEFA Football and Social Responsibility Report
UEFA and the European Healthy Stadia Network
UEFA is committed to working with experts like the European Healthy Stadia Network to promote healthy and active lifestyles across Europe.
The Liverpool-based network was launched in 2009, building upon a highly successful 30-month pilot project funded by the European Commission through the framework of the Public Health Programme.
Healthy Stadia has developed a guidance framework for stadiums to roll out a range of public health initiatives with the support of local service providers, including: food and nutrition, physical activity, smoke-free environments, alcohol and substance misuse and mental health.
COVID-19 and its impact
Community sports organisations play an important role in many communities, supporting the most vulnerable, raising money for charitable causes and assisting food banks in the collection for, and distribution of food parcels.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the crucial contribution of these organisations within their local areas, given that an increasing number of people are counting on their assistance.
The Healthy Stadia guidance material seeks to help clubs and partner organisations in maintaining a healthy balance of food options when delivering to vulnerable populations in lockdown.
European Healthy Stadia Network CEO Matthew Philpott takes up the story:
“It’s important for everyone’s health and well-being to maintain a balanced diet at all times, and this has been particularly important during periods of lockdown across Europe due to COVID-19,” he explains. “Poor diet choices and overeating while at home can contribute to weight gain, and evidence shows that once people put weight on, it is much more difficult for them to lose.”
“With a potential downturn in physical activity during lockdown exacerbating the problem of weight gain,” Philpott adds, “we have been pleased to see many clubs and national associations across Europe promote healthy eating messages and supply healthy food parcels to at-need groups.
“We hope that our latest guidance documents can help football organisations to supply a balanced range of healthier foods to their communities in this difficult period.”
Guidance, advice and tips
Healthy Stadia’s guidance documents contain a wealth of invaluable advice and tips.
They include an overview of Vitamin D supplementation, as well as guidance on how to assemble a healthy, balanced food parcel and meal ideas for both non-perishable and fresh food items.
Food bank and food parcel guidance
Guidance for the provision of emergency three-day food parcels via local networks of food banks as part of the ongoing response to COVID-19. This guidance has been co-developed by Healthy Stadia’s nutrition partner, Food Active, to support local authorities, grassroots and community organisations and food banks to provide access to healthy food for the most vulnerable in society.
Food parcel meal ideas
A guide to help prepare and cook some basic but tasty meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert.
The full package of guidance documents can be found here
Shining examples : How Everton FC and the Portuguese Football Federation are caring for people affected by the COVID-19 crisis
England : The Blue Family campaign
Everton in The Community (EiTC), the official charity of English Premier League club Everton FC, has set up The Blue Family campaign in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Blue Family is a coordinated outreach and engagement campaign to maintain contact with fans and participants, as well as provide tailored and focused support, assistance and guidance to some of the most vulnerable, socially isolated and at-risk members of Liverpool’s communities during these uncertain times.
Since the start of lockdown in the UK, EiTC staff have been donating up to 200 essential food bank parcels each week to neighbourhoods within close vicinity to Goodison Park Stadium, participants of EiTC community programmes, and ‘crisis families’.
Food parcels have focussed on non-perishable, healthy items such as: tinned fruit, tinned veg, tinned fish, tinned meat, pasta, rice, cooking sauces, UHT milk and hygiene products.
Portugal : Promoting healthier food choices
From the first moments of the COVID-19 crisis, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) has promoted healthier food choices through a series of health promotion adverts broadcast through Portuguese TV and on the web.
Following the general recommendations of national health authorities, the FPF’s nutritionist, Rodrigo Abreu, has shared grocery shopping lists for the lockdown period, including weekly menus to be prepared at home and advice on how to maintain a healthy weight during the lockdown period.
To address younger audiences, a set of easy-to-prepare, healthy and tasty recipes for children were presented by Super Quinas, FPF’s own animated characters.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
If you have any questions or queries regarding the guidance materials provided here, or would like additional support, please get in touch as follows:
European Healthy Stadia Network
151 Dale Street
Phone: +44 (0)78 265 330 13