Monday, January 9, 2012

Bosasa Launches Business Human Rights

When South Africa received its Bill of Rights after the Apartheid Regime ended,government embraced the new world of Human Rights. The Prisons of coloni times became Correctional Centres where offenders were given an opportunity to rehabilitate and literally correct path if they so desired. It is in this new environment that Bosasa entered. What set Bosasa apart some of its executives who had fought for Human Rights during the Apartheid Regime and like Nelson Mandela and other ANC liberation activities, and were incarcerated in their fight for justice. With firsthand experience of abuse in the old prison environment, the Bosasa Leadership committed itself to championing Human Rights when South Africa was liberated, as the new South African government has done. To this end, when the catering tender was awarded for 32 kitchens in 8 management areas, the Strategy was to streamline Correctional Centre catering to global standards but also make the nutritional experience of an offender a pleasant one.

Food is a science
Eating goes beyond the act of opening your mouth and chewing to fill a stomach. Eating nutritious food sustains life and prevents disease. Eating is also a psychological experience. What is nutritious then is decided by qualified and professional dieticians. What is pleasing to the eye is decided by the kitchen and Bosasa's chefs. So Bosasa brought together a multi-disciplinary team which researched correctional centres world wide. Advisors included the South Africa Chefs Association, seasoned dieticians, psychologists, IT specialists, software designers and leading authorities on correctional centre and kitchen management.

What can go wrong?
Let's think about what can go wrong in a kitchen. Meat and chicken is prepared and once delivered at 87 it must be eaten within two hours. Leave chicken lying around and Salmonella poisoning could be one but not the least of your worries. Food poisoning has many facets of the general population outside the correctional centre and in South Africa, a good percentage suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, high uric acid levels, kidney diseases, high cholesterol and even cancers. Offenders are no different as they represent the same figures inside, so special meals need to be prepared for them. Food badly presented can also put you off eating.

Human Rights and beyond
Enter Bosasa, with famous Prof. Jorn Doinet, a world authority on food, nutrition and food preparation. He saw to it that a three meal system was introduced into Correctional Centres with colourful presentation. He also varied the protein to make it interesting. Pork, chicken, beef and fish were presented with flair Enter six dieticians with top BSc university qualifications to ensure that the dietary requirement of anyone needing special diets is met. Offenders consulted with the dieticians and after lengthy interviews, appropriate diets were prescribed. Packet soups with their high salt content were jettisoned and emphasis was laid on natural products wherever possible with salt and sugar content controlled. Flavours were enhanced with herbs and spices.

Enter the IT specialists and software designers. Designing and preparing 54 000 meals three times a day takes a lot of paper work. Imagine sifting through a mountain of invoices and still controlling quality. This was controlled through trustMaster. Enter the trainers and a correctional centre kitchen becomes a medium for a meaningful career as a chef once paroled. Registered, accredited programmes, exposure to every facet of kitchen management and catering – and a second chance helps offenders on the journey to becoming professional chefs should they so choose.

Ours for life
To an offender, mealtimes break up the day, offering a break from monotonous routine. Mealtimes and meals have psychological impact. "I so look forward to seeing different meals. It makes me feel human" shares one offender. A highlight of the year was the Malva Pudding for Woman's Day.
It is clear that this focus on human rights in the kitchen has a significant impact of offenders. "It made us feel that we mattered – that were not just not society's write offs and that we can actually have a second chance. Good food, however simple, made us feel like human beings who have worth and who are capable of change" These are the words of one ex offender who visited Mogale Business Park on being paroled. "I have changed, I know" says ex offender Alice. "Hygienically and nutritiously prepared food ‘inside' by Bosasa was one of the buttons Bosasa pushed that made a difference to our mindset. Being given training to become a cook, caterer or chef was another. It changed my life, and my career potential. Bosasa believed that we could be out for life. Now we are."

(Names have been changed to protect identity in line with legislation and Human Rights of Privacy)

Watson Institute of Business Leadership Website

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