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

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources