About the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program

Healthcare workers talking to residents in an assisted living dining room

The Sodium Reduction in Communities Program funds programs across the nation to increase the availability and access to lower-sodium foods.

Recipients in the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program (SRCP) partner with local organizations that serve or sell food, such as schools, hospitals, and worksites, to implement sodium reduction strategies. Learn more about why sodium reduction is important and what the funded sites are doing in their communities.

Why is sodium reduction important?

About 90% of Americans consume more sodium than they need for a healthy diet, and excess sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.1 Lowering sodium can reduce high blood pressure.2–4  The current average daily intake of 3,400 mg greatly exceeds the limit of 2,300 mg recommended in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the 2019 Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium.11,12,13 Many leading medical and public health organizations recommend reducing dietary sodium from current levels on the basis of evidence that indicates a public health benefit.5–10

CDC strongly supports sodium reduction as an achievable and effective public health strategy to reduce high blood pressure and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Reducing sodium intake to the recommended limit of 2,300 mg per day could save 280,000 to 500,000 lives and nearly $100 billion in health care costs over the next 10 years.14,15

What are the funded sites doing?

In the 2016–2021 funding period, CDC awarded funding to eight communities to continue sodium reduction strategies and collaborations with food industry partners by:

  • Creating sustainable community-level interventions. SRCP targets venues that provide food service to large populations and focuses on health promotion and disease prevention activities that influence a community’s overall health profile. These venues include public- and private-sector worksites, hospitals, schools, early care and education centers, higher learning institutions, emergency food services, elder care services, homeless shelters, and detention facilities.
  • Increasing choice through access and availability. Recipients have proposed strategies to help food service providers buy and promote lower-sodium products. Because the majority of sodium consumed in the United States are already present in packaged or prepared foods, reducing sodium intake needs to start with making lower-sodium items more available. Recipients work with selected venues and food sector groups that have committed to voluntary strategies to increase the availability of lower-sodium processed and restaurant foods.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the results. Measured outcomes will allow CDC to evaluate whether these strategies are effective in specific venues. Read the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program (SRCP) Evaluation Approach pdf icon[PDF – 248 KB] for more information on the design of the comprehensive evaluation. Evaluation is performed at the local level—by each community—as well as through a national cross-site analysis to answer the following questions:
    1. How and to what extent have sodium reduction interventions been implemented in specific sites?
    2. How and to what extent has the food environment changed since the implementation of sodium reduction interventions, specifically the availability of lower-sodium foods?
    3. To what extent have consumers or large food service providers chosen or bought lower-sodium foods?
    4. What successful and innovative sodium reduction strategies could be used by similar communities?

Strategies are tailored based on availability of resources (e.g., partnerships, skills, and materials) and food sector partners that are most appropriate for their selected venues. Read highlights from each awardee’s project.

Each grantee is also working toward long-term sustainability, for example by expanding nutrition policies to encompass additional programs in the community, engaging corporate distributors to increase product availability nationally or regionally, or testing innovative, lower-sodium formulas that manufacturers can use to align with the priorities of public health and the food industry.