More than 34,000 Washington, D.C., residents and commuters who work on local government property will soon have heart-healthy foods and beverages available at all worksites. The D.C. Council has taken a bold step to ensure a healthier workforce and is providing the entire nation with a model to follow. This policy follows federal nutrition standards for vending machines, worksite cafeterias, and all food and beverages served or purchased by D.C. government.
With these new standards in place, all foods and beverages purchased by the agency and served or sold to employees or guests are required to be more nutritious than ever before. Encouraging employees and visitors to drink more water and eat healthier meals is a simple way to increase the health of our workforce. Providing guests with healthy portions of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and lean proteins means our government is demonstrating to all contractors and partnering organizations what it really means to build a culture of health in the workplace. Vending machines with clear calorie labels makes healthy choices easier for staff and visitors. This includes vending machines at city parks, libraries and other facilities frequented by the general public.
Advancing policy in the District, including Congressional approval, can be a long process, which is why we are thrilled to report this movement forward in our nation’s capital. The D.C. Council passed the policy in July, followed by Congressional approval in the fall. However, the law took effect October 1 with the start of fiscal year 2015 and the final rules should be issued by the Mayor’s Office by October of 2015.
This isn’t the only step the D.C. government is taking to make sure their worksites are the healthiest in the nation. The D.C. Department of Human Resources is expected to release a five-year strategic plan for workplace wellness in the near future. And, as of now, three D.C. agencies meet the Gold standards for the American Heart Association’s Fit-Friendly Worksites. However, District government leadership is committed to seeing all agencies participate in the initiative.
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