Part of our wellness program here at Community Partners includes monthly wellness activities that we do as a group. We’re a pretty small workforce, so we try to get together once a month to do something that will actually help us each be healthier in our daily lives.

For our group activity last month, we hosted the World Championship of Healthy Eating. I know what you’re thinking…how did such a small organization get chosen as the host of such a prestigious event?? Well here’s how it went down. We made it up—so obviously we had first dibs.

Basically, our World Championship event was a healthy cook-off for our employees. We adapted the cook-off style to fit our workplace, and it was a huge success!

This is how we did it:

Step 1: Find a day that most people will be in the office.

We’re a community-focused organization, so a lot of days our employees are out in the community meeting with people and doing great work. We had to find a day when most people would be in the office for at least part of the day. That day was March 30 for us, but obviously you can choose the day that works best for your workforce!

Step 2: Pick a time that works for most people.

Again, we’re an office filled with people who are in and out all day long going to work within the community. For that reason, we didn’t necessary pick a set time. Instead, we did an open-house style cook-off.

We asked that everyone had their entry placed in the breakroom by 10 a.m. Then our workforce had until 4 p.m. to try each dish when they had a free minute and vote on it. This format was perfect for us for a few reasons.

  1. It didn’t interfere with anyone’s schedules because there wasn’t a block of time to work around.
  2. People could space out their taste-tests as they pleased, so nobody had to try all the foods at once and we weren’t forced to overeat.
  3. Most of us ate lunch at the office and snacked on each other’s healthy cook-off entries.

It really was the best possible format for our workforce. Maybe it will be for yours too! Or maybe not, and that’s just fine. Find what timeframe works best for you and your employees.

Step 3: Choose your voting parameters.

We allowed each employee to vote three times regardless of whether or not they entered a dish. We also banned voting for your own entry—because we have a very competitive workforce! We made it simple to vote by placing a cup by each cook-off entry, and a basket of entry ‘ballots’ (small slips of paper) at the end of the table. To vote, all we had to do was place a ballot in the cup of our choice—the dish with the most ballots was declared the winner!

DISCLAIMER: This method produced a five-way tie and a re-vote process for those five winners. So use it with caution—or at least with a tiebreaker in the back of your mind.

Step 4: Communicate the event and the process to your employees.

This is the most important part of any wellness activity. If your workforce doesn’t know about it or doesn’t understand it, they won’t take part in it. We have a brief section of our weekly staff meetings designated to worksite wellness, so that was a perfect avenue for answering questions. We also put the event on everyone’s Outlook calendars so they would get a reminder the day before.

Step 5: COOK!

This is arguably the hardest part. There are so many great healthy recipes out there! We encouraged all of our employees to bring their recipes along with their entry so we could each take home some new healthy food ideas.

Step 6: EAT!

This is arguably the easiest part. Notice the event was the World Championship of Healthy Eating. We wanted to focus on the community-building aspect of eating. We love to eat! And despite popular opinion, it is possible to love to eat healthy foods. We took one day out of our month at work to practice that fact.

Our cook-off was a huge success! We had 100% participation. Everyone who was in the office that day submitted an entry to the event. Our intern Cat was the winner with her delicious Cowboy Caviar, dubbed “Cat’s Caviar.” It was a delicious recipe that she had altered to make it truly healthy and fresh.

If you want to set up a similar event at your workplace, feel free to adapt our process above. If you’re still not sure where to start or have some questions about what we did, drop us a line on our Activate Buffalo County Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you and even share some of your winning recipes!