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Benefits of Environments with Nutritious Food Choices
Worksites that offer nutritious food choices help employees and clients by making the healthy choice an easy choice. Access to nutritious food reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Access to nutritious food also helps to create a healthier workforce by supporting people who are trying to eat better or follow a diet plan. Working toward policies that require nutritious food choices in worksites should be a high priority for worksite wellness coordinators and committees.
State Employees Support Nutritious Food Choices
From a survey of Oregon state agency employees in 2007:
- 72% of employees report that they do not eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- 80% of employees report that healthy foods are not offered from a cafeteria or vending machines.
- Among worksites not offering healthy food options, 79% of employees report that they would choose healthy foods if the worksite began to offer them.
People make food choices for many reasons, including cost, ease of preparation, taste and comfort. However, too often the worksite makes it very challenging for people who try to eat a healthful diet to make good choices. Policies that provide for healthful food choices will result in a healthier work environment for everyone.
Rather than trying to change the entire food environment at work, it makes sense to take it one area at a time, depending on the support in the worksite. Options for policy change include:
- Healthy meetings
- Healthy vending machines
- Healthy cafeteria choices
- Healthy office environments
- Farmers' market at work
Key Steps in Establishing Policies to Support Nutritious Foods
Key steps in establishing policies to support nutritious food choices in the workplace include:
- Gaining support from leadership; this is an essential step that may take some time
- Forming a workgroup to develop the policy language
- Establishing a timeline to introduce, adopt, communicate and implement the policy
- Providing management and staff trainings on systems, roles and responsibilities
- Communicating the why and how of the policy through worksite publications and/or community media
- Monitoring and supporting implementation
Resources to Assist Workplaces
A variety of resources are available to assist workplaces through this process. Recommended online resources with model policies, timelines, communication strategies and other implementation tips can be found at: