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Adv Nutr. 2012 May 1;3(3):337-42. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001354.

Developing and implementing health and sustainability guidelines for institutional food service.

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  • 1Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Health and sustainability guidelines for institutional food service are directed at improving dietary intake and increasing the ecological benefits of the food system. The development and implementation of institutional food service guidelines, such as the Health and Human Services (HHS) and General Services Administration (GSA) Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations (HHS/GSA Guidelines), have the potential to improve the health and sustainability of the food system. Institutional guidelines assist staff, managers, and vendors in aligning the food environment at food service venues with healthier and more sustainable choices and practices. Guideline specifics and their effective implementation depend on the size, culture, nature, and management structure of an institution and the individuals affected. They may be applied anywhere food is sold, served, or consumed. Changing institutional food service practice requires comprehensive analysis, engagement, and education of all relevant stakeholders including institutional management, members of the food supply chain, and customers. Current examples of food service guidelines presented here are the HHS and GSA Health and Sustainability Guidelines for Federal Concessions and Vending Operations, which translate evidence-based recommendations on health and sustainability into institutional food service practices and are currently being implemented at the federal level. Developing and implementing guidelines has the potential to improve long-term population health outcomes while simultaneously benefitting the food system. Nutritionists, public health practitioners, and researchers should consider working with institutions to develop, implement, and evaluate food service guidelines for health and sustainability.

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