Lady using  a modern vending machine

GOAL IV Model Food Service

Goal IV: To improve access to healthy, affordable foods, local elected officials commit to implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in all municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages.*

  • All vendors and contractors for municipally-or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages are identified, along with the dates when their contracts can be amended or renegotiated.
  • A policy for healthy and sustainable food service guidelines aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is adopted for municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages; plus Bronze benchmark.
  • At least 30% of municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages have implemented the policy for healthy and sustainable food service guidelines aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; plus Bronze and Silver benchmarks.

Municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages may include vending machines, cafeterias, concession stands, recreation facilities, libraries, police departments or fire stations, public medical facilities/clinics or areas served by food distribution programs.

Why are healthy and sustainable food service guidelines important?
Healthy and sustainable food service guidelines can make healthy choices more accessible, appealing and affordable. They are not designed to restrict choices. Healthy and sustainable food service guidelines can also influence constituents’ food choices, improve the nutritional quality of food consumed and serve as a model for the private sector.

First published in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are mandated by Congress to be reviewed, updated, and released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services every five years.  The DGA contain the latest, science-based nutrition and dietary guidance for the general public.  All federal nutrition assistance programs are based on these guidelines.  The latest version of the DGA was released in January 2011.  Dietary Guidelines for Americans website

What can cities and counties do to implement healthy and sustainable food service guidelines?
Your city or county can include food service guidelines in all food service contracts and permits. Food service guidelines can be used in all settings where food is offered or sold, such as vending machines, snack shops or concessions. Given the many city/county employees, constituents and visitors who access your facilities, adopting healthy and sustainable guidelines is a critical strategy for improving your constituents’ access to healthy foods and beverages.

Steps to Success:
Do you currently use healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages?  To achieve the goal of using these food service guidelines in at least 30% of these municipally- or county-owned or operated venues, you can take action by following the steps below.

  1. BRONZE: Identify all municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages and determine the type of legal agreements (e.g., contracts) established for food service. Identify vendors by locating the current contracts, checking for a company name and contact number on vending machines, or by talking with concession or cafeteria staff. Consider all city/county government buildings that contain food venues, including vending machines.
    • If healthy and sustainable food service guidelines are currently being used, can they be applied to all contracts and bids?  If so, proceed to step three.
    • If healthy and sustainable food service guidelines are not currently being used, proceed to step two.
  2. SILVER: Develop and adopt a policy for healthy and sustainable food service guidelines to be used in contracts, proposals and bids for all municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to policy development and adoption. An executive order by a mayor or county executive, a policy passed by a city council or board of supervisors or departmental regulation are all options. Sample policies.
    • Define “healthy”: It can be difficult to define what qualifies as a healthy food or beverage. A common approach is to follow existing national standards, such as the Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Smart Snacks Standards, or the American Heart Association: Recommended Nutrition Standards for Procurement of Foods and Beverages Offered in the Workplace.
    • Do what works: It may not be feasible for your city or county to adopt guidelines that require 100% healthy foods and beverages. You may want to consider a phased-in approach where the percentage of healthy items increases over time.
  1. GOLD: Incorporate and implement your policy into all food service and vending contracts and bids for all venues owned or operated by your municipality or county. Developing good relationships with your vendors is key. Going over your food service guidelines, sharing product lists of items that meet the guidelines and listening to and addressing vendors’ concerns can help develop good relationships. Additional partners to consider involving can include employee wellness committees, departmental heads, nutritionists, local public health organizations and your purchasing director. Consider the following options:
    • Designate a point person in each department or food service venue.
    • Develop a campaign to educate employees and constituents on the new food service guidelines.
    • Develop a timeline for renegotiating contracts and issuing new bids.
    • Determine what staffing or training will be needed for implementation.
    • If you are not starting with 100% healthy options, consider pricing healthy options as reasonably as possible so they are able to compete with less-healthy food and beverage options.
  2. Ensure that your policy is being implemented as planned, and that healthier food options are being offered in your municipally- or county-owned or operated venues.
    • Determine who is responsible for ensuring the policy for healthy and sustainable food service guidelines is incorporated and implemented into contracts and bids.
    • Determine who is responsible for compliance with the policy onsite at food service venues.
    • Develop a reporting process for compliance as part of your contracts.
  3. Report your progress by updating your medal status survey.  In order to earn bronze, silver and gold medals when associated benchmarks are reached, a site must update their progress using their survey link to update their information. Sites received their survey link in their confirmation sign up email, however if it has been misplaced, please send an email to lmctc@nlc.org to request the link.

Goal IV Webinar:

A webinar on Goal IV was held in March 2013 and demonstrated how local elected officials through LMCTC can improve access to healthy, affordable foods by implementing healthy and sustainable food service guidelines that are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans at municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages.  Attendees learned how to identify these venues and heard from an LMCTC site about their process for developing and implementing a policy for healthy and sustainable food service guidelines.

Download the slides from the webinar. View the recording of the webinar.

Recognition:

A bronze medal will be earned when all vendors and contractors for municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages are identified, along with dates when their contracts can be amended or renegotiated.

A silver medal will be earned when a policy for healthy and sustainable food service guidelines aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is adopted for municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages; plus Bronze benchmark.

A gold medal will be earned when at least 30% of municipally- or county-owned or operated venues that offer or sell food/beverages have implemented the policy for healthy and sustainable food service guidelines aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; plus Bronze and Silver benchmarks.

Going Beyond Gold
After you have completed all five goals, keep up the momentum by signing up for LMCTC All-Stars, which offers a set of eight advanced strategies for cities, towns and counties to pursue. More information about LMCTC All-Stars is available here.

Resources:
To access resources to help you succeed in accomplishing the medal achievements, please click here.

Still need help?  Contact lmctc@nlc.org to receive additional assistance and connect with expert federal staff. 

*To better illustrate how the medal benchmarks build upon each other (i.e. the silver benchmark includes the bronze benchmark), on March 21, 2014, the medal benchmarks were re-formatted to illustrate this more directly. No changes have been made to the goal benchmarks themselves; they were only reformatted.