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Study identifies success, failure factors affecting healthy dining programs

Institutional support, customer blowback and availability of appropriate products are some of the key drivers.

Leadership support, a corporate commitment to healthy changes, collaborative vendor partnerships, open communications with vendors and foodservice workers, and the deployment of registered dietitians to provide education, coordinate activities and manage and monitor the implementation of guidelines were found to be significant factors affecting the success of healthy foodservice guidelines in hospital and worksite cafeterias, according to a study just published in the “Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics”.

Barriers to successful implementation included customer complaints and a shortage of foods and beverages meeting healthy dining guidelines.

The research included in-depth interviews with foodservice managers and operators at four federal government worksites and five hospitals who were deemed most knowledgeable about implementing the United States Department of Health and Human Services/General Services Administration Health and Sustainability Guidelines (in federal worksites) or the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) Hospital Healthier Food Initiative (in hospitals).

Among the participating healthcare institutions were…
Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, which found that adopting the PHA guidelines not only improved nutrition but boosted cafeteria sales, which rose between 2 and 10 percent year over year depending on the site;
MaineHealth in Portland, which found that after implementing the guidelines for two years, employee Health Risk Assessment data showed consumption of five or more fruit/vegetable servings a day increased by 17.6 percent, from 35.1 percent in 2012 to 52.7 percent in 2014; and
Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, where more than 10 percent of food dollars is now spent on salt- and sugar-free fruits and vegetables.

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