Facts for Living: Your organization’s policies can contribute to healthy, nutritious choices

By Rebecca McFarland
Frontier Extension Agent

As you may know, a healthy, balanced diet is essential in order to maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic diseases. Numerous studies have demonstrated clear linkages between the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables consumed and rates of chronic diseases, especially cancer.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends four and one-half cups of fruits and vegetables daily. But, in Franklin County, only 12.9 percent of residents consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Thus, in August 2013, the Franklin County Food Policy Council was formed. The council was created to address one of the priorities, healthy nutrition, from the regional Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHA CHIP). The council, which I am a part of, just released Food and Beverage Guidelines. The guidelines are as follows:

The Franklin County Food Policy Council recommends that organizations adopt a policy that supports healthy nutritional choices for employees, visitors, volunteers and others. It has been demonstrated that nutritional status can be improved when access to healthy choices is increased. The benefits of improved nutritional status include weight control, diabetes control, and hypertension reduction among many others. This document is adapted from the Kansas Health Foundation Guidelines to be used for concession sales, meetings and other events. It took over 20 years for our population to fully adopt unhealthy habits. With your help, it will take fewer years to reverse the trend.

As an organization, you may wish to start slowly by ensuring that at least 20 percent of foods offered meet these guidelines and to provide education to your constituents about this effort to improve the health of our community.

Beverage Guidelines

Organization funds may not be used to purchase soft drinks (regular or diet) or sports/energy drinks.

Snack Guidelines

If organization funds are used to purchase and provide snack foods, organization would avoid serving calorie dense low nutrition snacks (donuts, cookies, candy, chips, full-fat ice cream, cake, etc.)

Healthy snack foods typically include:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain foods
  • Nuts and seeds (with low sodium or no added salt)
  • Low fat dairy products

It is recommended pre-packaged snack foods be served in portion sizes of 200 calories or less.

Catered/Prepared Meal Guidelines

If organization funds are used to purchase catered or prepared meals, organization will work with food providers to offer healthy meal options. The following recommendations provide general guidance regarding meal options. If desired, organization could conduct additional research to find more detailed healthy meal recommendations from other organizations.

Recommendations:

  • Prepare foods in a way that minimizes cholesterol, trans-fat and saturated fat.
  • Seafood may be a healthy alternative to meat and poultry.
  • Provide a vegetarian meal option.
  • Ensure meals include one or more of the following: Fresh fruit; dark green, red, and orange vegetables; beans and peas.
  • Select whole grain options over refined grain.
  • Serve desserts in reasonable portion sizes.

For assistance in adopting a policy for your organization, contact the Franklin County Food Policy Council at 785-229-3530.


McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and consumer sciences agent. For more information, she can be contacted at the Extension district’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].

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