Can contracts be used to effectively reduce sodium in government food environments? Through its participation with the CDC’s Sodium Reduction in Communities Program, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) is proving the answer is “Yes”! Since 2010, the county has worked with public and private institutions to serve or sell healthier, lower sodium options for more than 100,000 employees and community members.
In March 2011, the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors adopted a motiongiving LACDPH the authority to review all county government food service and vending contracts. The motion allows LACDPH to make recommendations for healthy nutrition standards and procurement practices, including sodium reduction plans and limits for entrees, sides, and snack options, within the final contracts. LACDPH also educates vendors about healthy nutrition strategies. By implementing sodium reduction plans and sodium limits in food procurement contracts, LACDPH is leveraging the county’s purchasing power to provide healthier nutrition options.
More recently, the public health department has evaluated sodium reduction of the foods provided by the county’s largest vending machine contract after implementation of healthy nutrition standards. Analyses show the average sodium per packaged snack in vending machines has been reduced by 30% within the first 8 months after implementation and additional reductions are anticipated for the future.
Read more about the outcomes of this successful program and the agency’s next steps.