Nutritional behavior change can be directly influenced by resources available in the workplace. Because adults spend the majority of their day at work, it is applicable to focus on nutritional influences within the workplace that affect the overall health and wellbeing of its constituents. By offering nutritious foods to employees, a worksite has the ability to maintain healthy employees, which has the potential to influence nutritional behavior outside of work.
CDC’s Healthy Food Service Guidelines is a gold standard resource that can be used when developing your own nutrition policies in your worksite. These guidelines provide information to show why providing healthy choices is recommended and how to enable sustainable choices in the workplace, including worksites and hospitals. The guidelines address vending machines, meeting and event, sodium reduction, and improving the overall food environment in your workplace.
A good place to start is with vending machines in your workplace. Encourage your employer to have healthy options in your vending machines. Some examples include, yogurt, apples, string cheese, pre-packaged sandwiches, and granola bars. Reduce the availability of candy, chips, and other less nutritious choices. The following resources provide guidance on vending machine guidelines and policy:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s resource, Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations to align worksite food environments with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015.
- Step by step instructions on how to work with second party vendors, and other state initiatives, review the Federal Concessions Guidelines.
- Public Health Law Center provides a great resource for implementing food procurement and vending policies.
- General Services Administration and Department of Health and Human Services with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborated to create the Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations to assist contractors in increasing healthy food and beverage choices and sustainable practices at federal worksites.
- Nutritional Environment Measures Survey-Vending (NEMS-V) has a calculator that will allow your institution to re-evaluate the nutritional value of items offered from the vending machine. Here is a link to the tutorial on how to use the calculator.
Another central location for food in the workplace is during meetings. Often meetings are catered or food is provided to employees. Help make your workplace healthier by encouraging your employer to provide healthy food options and appropriate portion sizes. Opt for sandwiches, veggie trays, salads and soups instead of fried chicken or pastries.
- The Utah Department of Health has a healthy food policy for meetings.
- The American Cancer Society has a tool to help companies organize meetings and events with health in mind.
- University of Minnesota Public Health has created guidelines for offering Healthy Foods for meetings.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed Tips For Offering Healthier Options and Physical Activity at Workplace Meetings and Events where food or snacks might be served.
- The North Carolina State Health Plan has developed the Eat Smart Workbook for worksites which includes guidelines for providing healthy food at meetings. This plan also includes healthy snacks and beverage guides for vending machines, sample workplace posters on nutrition, a sample healthy foods policy, and 42 examples of Eat Smart handouts for employees.
- The Healthy Meeting Toolkit is new from the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) to help organizations plan healthy meetings.
Model Policies and Toolkits
Whether you are seeking to create a policy from scratch or assess the effectiveness of your policy, looking at what other organizations have implemented will be helpful for you. These resources will provide guidance when developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating a food policy:
- Improving the Food Environment is a great resource for conducting needs assessments, and how to properly adopt the policy in order to encourage all parties to adhere.
- American Heart Association & American Stroke Association has everything you will need, from implementing healthy foods in your vending machines, to healthy meetings, to overall health in the workplace.
- Healthier Worksite Initiative provides program design planning tools, assessments, implementation strategies, and evaluation.
- CDC toolkit guide for healthy lifestyle in the workplace gives additional information outside of vendors that can increase the nutritional behaviors of a workplace such as garden markets.
- Leading by Example: The Value of Worksite Health Promotion to Small- and Medium-sized Employers (2011) published by the Partnership for Prevention provides best practices and strategies for creating or enhancing a worksite health promotion program as well as worksite health program descriptions from almost 20 small employers.
- CDC garden market toolkit is a “how to” guide in building your own garden and utilize its resources.
- Diverse Model Policy for Healthy Lifestyles can be applied to nutrition, physical activity, and breastfeeding resources.
- Promoting Healthy Eating has a worksite nutrition environment assessment measures on pp 16-18.
- For additional resources, the National Healthy Worksite Program provides a huge list if you are in need of further information.
- Additional links to research and evidence based policy descriptions from other states.
- For outreach initiatives, 10 reasons to offer healthier options, is a great resource which will allow for agencies to quickly understand why healthier options are important. Also gives contact information to help adopt policies.
- The Dietary Guidelines from Americans, 2015 published every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides guidelines on good dietary habits to promote health and prevent disease.