By Margo G. Wootan, D.Sc., Director of Nutrition Policy, and Katherine Bishop, M.S., M.P.H.,Nutrition Policy Associate, at the Center for Science in the Public Interest
It’s spring cleaning time: time to open the windows and spruce everything up a bit. In addition to cleaning up our homes and workspaces, let’s clean up our meetings too. It can be difficult to eat well in our junk food culture. One way to make healthy eating more possible is to change the food environment to make it more supportive.
A great place to start is at work, where most of us spend a lot of time (and do a lot of eating). If work is not a supportive environment, it will make it that much harder to achieve healthy eating goals.
Studies show a strong relationship between the physical and social environments of the workplace and the health behaviors of employees. Nearly half of our waking hours are spent at work, and many of those hours are spent in meetings and conferences.
By adopting healthy meeting practices, your organization can help to create a supportive environment that helps employees and members eat well and be physically active. Adopting healthy meeting practices sends the message that an organization or company cares about its employees and members. And, it’s a way to support health at little or no additional cost.
Our Healthy Meeting Toolkit offers healthy and delicious food ideas, suggestions for free physical activity breaks, tips for tobacco-free environments, and sustainability practices.
This year, do a little spring cleaning of your work environment, pledge to have healthy meetings, conferences, and events. The National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) has developed the Healthy Meeting Toolkit to help institutions make this pledge a reality. The toolkit contains helpful tips on how to serve healthier foods, work with hotels to contract for a healthy conference, talk to a caterer or chef about serving healthier options, integrate physical activity into meetings, and more.
Organizations, institutions, government agencies, or businesses that pledge to have healthy meetings can be recognized on our healthy meeting webpage.
If you already have a healthy meeting policy, please take the healthy meeting pledge now to show your organization’s support for providing a healthy work environment. You can take the healthy meeting pledge by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t adopted healthy meeting practices, we hope you will find the Healthy Meeting Toolkit a useful resource to help you begin offering healthier food and beverage options, physical activity, a tobacco-free environment, and sustainability practices during your institution’s meetings and conferences. And if you need more information or help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Making the Case
Community Commons tools like maps and data visuals can make it easier for you to make the case for healthier meetings. Click on the photo below to enter the Maps & Data page and begin your explorations.
Margo Wootan is the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), one of the country’s leading health advocacy organizations that specializes in food, nutrition, and obesity prevention. Dr. Wootan received her B.S. in nutrition from Cornell University and her doctorate in nutrition from Harvard University’s School of Public Health. Wootan co-founded and coordinates the activities of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) and the Food Marketing Workgroup. She has coordinated and led efforts to require calorie labeling at fast-food and other chain restaurants, require trans fat labeling on packaged foods, improve school foods, reduce junk-food marketing aimed at children, and expand nutrition and physical activity programs at CDC. Wootan has received numerous awards and is quoted regularly in the nation’s major media.
Katherine Bishop is a nutrition policy associate at the CSPI. Ms. Bishop received her B.A. in political science from the University of Rhode Island, and her M.S. in nutrition and M.P.H. in public health from Tufts University. Prior to working at CSPI, Ms. Bishop spent four years in the Massachusetts Legislature, as Legislative Aide then Legislative Director to a State Representative. In addition, during graduate school, Ms. Bishop worked with the Massachusetts Public Health Association and the Nutrition Policy Department at the World Health Organization.