Wellness Mandate

FoodService Director - What I've Learned - Larry Melton - GSA - healthy eating templateAfter a presential mandate from President Obama to imporve wellness among federal employees, Larry Melton of the General Services Administration (GSA) developed a healthy eating template for all GSA facilities.

FoodService Director - What I've Learned - Larry Melton - GSA - healthy eating templateWhen President Obama issued a four-part presidential mandate to improve wellness among federal employees, the General Services Administration (GSA), which manages and supports the basic functioning of federal facilities, sprang into action. Larry Melton, assistant commissioner of facilities management and service programs for the GSA, spoke about developing a healthy eating template for all of GSA’s facilities.
 

“The four parts of the mandate included: creating a culture of wellness within federal agencies; evaluating the prototypes for on-site health and wellness programs; enhancing food and fitness options within the federal workplace; and modernizing federal health benefits program. The mandate was issued in the spring of 2009.

GSA is responsible for managing foodservice contracts at all federal facilities. We’re responsible for negotiating contracts for wellness amenities that are located in that federal space. We have a large role in fulfilling the presidential mandate by providing the healthier choice options.

We wanted to deal with the core components of healthy and sustainable food options. We had to incorporate that into our concessions contracts, knowing it could be supported by industry trends. We knew from looking at studies in the private sector what has been a successful model in other private-sector organizations, so partnering with the industry to garner support was critical to reshaping the requirements of healthy choices in our contracts. What we didn’t want to do is reinvent the wheel or create something that was not going to be successful. We worked with the USDA to determine ‘what is healthy nutrition?’

Right now we have a phase-in plan approach for our 350 operations. The first step was to build the healthy choice language into our contract template by including a wellness section. Just getting the language right was critical to us. A lot of folks think we’re only offering healthier food but what this is really about is healthier options—not just shoving healthy foods down our patrons’ throats with no room for choice. It includes things that promote a balanced diet; things like portion control and no trans fats. What we want to do is drive the right behavior, but folks can still get a hamburger and french fries, but we’ve made healthier versions of them.

We’re implementing this first in the State Department, so the chef there will present options, and in the case of the State Department they’ll be offering healthier taste testing to find out what works and doesn’t work. So the chefs will be creative, but they have to see what works and what promotes consumer demand. We are developing a scorecard so all operations can work off the same page for determining how the sales are going.

One of the biggest things we’ve learned is that folks really want healthy choices. When we’ve done surveys and seen what some of the commercial entities are doing, we’ve seen that everyone cares about calorie counts and employees are actually going to places that have promotions for healthy eating. We’ve also learned that you can’t offer only healthy foods. Educating the consumer that making healthy choices leads to a better workplace and a long-term stability for your employees is the most critical piece, and we hope it will drive the behavior we’re looking for.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The menu served at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, is headed for an overhaul after its CEO and management team ate a strict hospital food diet for a week and were unhappy with their options. The foodservice department has been fielding patient complaints for years, but decided to take action after facing the issue head on.

“Getting food managers to eat three meals of hospital food a day for a week brought the point home that much of the food being served was bland, institutional and not what people would normally eat,” Director of Food Services Kevin Peters told Ottawa...

Industry News & Opinion

With overtime pay likely to become a reality for some salaried foodservice employees after Dec. 1, operators are rethinking what they expect managers to do off-site as part of their responsibilities. Answering email or scheduling shifts at home didn’t matter when the employees were exempted from overtime if they earned more than $23,660 per year. But with that threshold more than doubling on Dec. 1 to $47,476, a half hour spent here and there on administrative tasks could push a salaried manager over the 40-hours-per-week threshold and entitle him or her to overtime. And how does the...

Menu Development
frozen raspberries

“As a chef, I pretty much have grown up through the business thinking that fresh was always better—produce, fish and meats, especially,” says Ryan Conklin, executive chef for UNC Rex Healthcare’s culinary and nutrition services. “But the more ‘re-educated’ I get, the more I’m learning that some frozen options may be more appropriate for me to be using on my menus.”

Right now, the perception of frozen foods doesn’t match the reality, especially for high-volume foodservice operators, says Conklin. Often, chefs and operators picture not-great product that’s been sitting in a block of...

Sponsored Content
Roasted Beet Salad Pickled Blueberries
From Blueberry Council.

What’s trending in the culinary world? The basics! According to the NRA, diners today are craving authenticity, simplicity and freshness on menus. But basic ingredients don’t have to lead to boring menu options.

It’s easy to fall into the latest craze to capture consumer attention and drive sales. But we’ve learned it’s not always about novelty. Instilling a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity by using well-known and well-loved ingredients in new, experimental dishes can lead to an increase in adventurous dining decisions, while staying in your customers’...

FSD Resources