Supporting and enabling healthy food provision


28 / 10 / 2015 3.04pm

One of the most direct ways by which organisations can influence their employees’ health is through the food provided onsite.

Leading organisations commit to:

  • ensuring that patients and staff are always offered healthy options in all restaurants, cafes and vending machines on site; and
  • actively promoting healthier options through targeted promotions.
NHS England will:

  • meet the major hospital catering contractors to discuss how we can ensure that the NHS leads the way in offering healthy food to our staff and patients; and
  • provide targeted support to Trusts who need it to improve the food and drink they offer.
As part of a health service, every organisation should be supplying food that promotes health and wellbeing, in line with the Government buying standards for food and catering. NHS organisations need to be clear about what they will tolerate in terms of food and drink sold on site. It is unacceptable for health sector organisations to be contracting with caterers who mainly sell foods which don’t meet nutritional standards, or actively promote unhealthy eating (e.g. by having special offers on chocolate bars at a lower price than any healthy offer).

NHS organisations should be setting an example of the changes we want to see more widely in society. This means that NHS staff should be able to walk into an on-site restaurant and purchase a balanced meal which meets the recommended calorie count as standard not as the exception. Patients should be able to go to a shop on a hospital site and easily purchase food and drink which is compliant with recommended Government food standards.

There is much that can be done within existing contracts to provide healthier choices for staff. Organisations should ensure that they are providing easily understandable nutritional information, and appropriate portion sizes. Some trusts have already shown what is possible by promoting healthy options (e.g. including fruit rather than confectionary in discounted meal deals) and working to reshape their overall offer. Food and drink offered in vending machines should meet existing nutritional standards, so that staff have a choice of healthy options.

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