About food4smiles
Not every child in the Netherlands has the same chance of a healthy start.
jaap seidell
"Food4Smiles makes a unique contribution to promoting the healthy growth and development of young children by linking insights from various forms of research with practice and policy in areas where it is most needed."
Prof. dr. ir. J.C. Seidell Hoogleraar
Professor of Nutrition and Health, VU University Amsterdam / director Sarphati Amsterdam
The premise:

A healthy lifestyle is not a certainty for many families and children in the Netherlands. Not every child has the same chance of a healthy start. These differences have many different causes, but up to now we don’t know which are most important. Involving parents with young children is essential to find out about these unknown factors. This practice is currently insufficiently applied. There is too little insight into the motives of the target group and too often a pedantic approach is used or there is too much emphasis on information transfer. Besides, the entire system around the first 1000 days is important because the responsibility of a healthy start cannot be placed solely with the parents and caregivers. By looking at a problem on a systemic level and positively changing this system on crucial points, a chain reaction of positive results will take place.

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A Healthier Future by Investing in the best Start in Life
Why Amsterdam Nieuw-West?

Food4Smiles takes place in Amsterdam Nieuw-West because this part of the city has a vast ethnic diversity and many inhabitants inhibit a low socio-economic position. Also, children in Amsterdam Nieuw-West are relatively more overweight than in the rest of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.

In Amsterdam Nieuw-West an average of 2000 babies are born each year.

The home base of Food4Smiles is the Stadsboerderij in Osdorp. This is a sustainable experiment in the middle of the city where nature, healthy food and a kind neighborhood are paramount.

Our goals:
Get insights

We collect insights from the parents with young children and their immediate social environment. We do this in collaboration with the parents. Together, we investigate what problems they run into, and what they need to give their children a healthy start.We collect insights from the parents with young children and their immediate social environment. We do this in collaboration with the parents. Together, we investigate what problems they run into, and what they need to give their children a healthy start.

Translate insights into actions

Together with the parents and their immediate social environment, we test what works, we investigate why something works and we ensure that successful activities in the neighborhood continue to exist. 

View systemically

We are looking at the broad social system that encompasses the first 1000 days of children in Amsterdam Nieuw-West so that we can better understand which buttons to push within that system to increase the chance of a healthy start.

Support scientifically

Because we take a scientific approach to the project, our insights can be used to help parents in other neighborhoods, nationally and internationally.

Initiate a movement

We are starting a movement in Amsterdam Nieuw-West to show the importance of a healthy first 1000 days for children. We partnered with the Amsterdam Healthy Weight Program (AAGG) and the Amsterdam Health and Opportunity Program.

Create visibility

We use Art to broadcast the importance of a healthy start to everyone in the neighborhood.

Our project group
Femke Boelsma
Femke Boelsma
Project leader VU University
Ruth Weijermars
Ruth Weijermars
Project leader Fred Foundation
Anna Groenewegen
Anna Groenewegen
Project leader Fred Foundation
(on maternity leave until December 2020)
PAR researcher VU University
Gülcan Bektas
PAR researcher VU University
Carline Wesdorp
Carline Wesdorp
System Science researcher VU University
Mariam Ouled Radi-Moussaoui
Mariam Ouled Radi-Moussaoui
Project group member
Linda Leijdekker
Linda Leijdekker
Project employee Healthy Start Amsterdam
Stefanie van Mook
Stefanie van Mook
Buurtmanager Gezonde Leefstijl, Gemeente Amsterdam (Nieuw West)
Our steering group
Aartjan Bontje
Aartjan Bontje (chairman)
Director Fred Foundation
Jaap Seidell
Jaap Seidell
Professor of Nutrition and Health, VU University
Fred Matser
Fred Matser
Founder Fred Foundation
Coosje Dijkstra
Coosje Dijkstra
Sr. researcher VU University
Sandra Kloezen
Sandra Kloezen
Strategic developer Fred Foundation
Marianne Mahieu
Marianne Mahieu
Program director Healthy Start Amsterdam
Assia Mouhouti
Assia Mouhouti
Deputy director Lukasschool
An initiative by
VU
Vrije University Amsterdam

The scientific research is carried out by VU University Amsterdam (Department of Health Sciences and the section Youth and Lifestyle). More than 26,500 students study at VU and more than 4,600 employees work for a better world through distinctive education and groundbreaking research. The Youth and Lifestyle section mainly studies how to give and keep a healthy start for every child.

More about VU
ff
Fred Foundation

Fred Foundation is committed to contribute to a society that stimulates people to live in harmony with themselves, each other and their environment. We are dedicated to empowering people, improving health and well-being, expanding consciousness, and promoting care for nature and our planet. We do this by carrying out our own projects and by supporting organizations and initiatives through financial donations.

More about FF