Build a foundation

Conduct a Baseline Assessment of the Food Environment

Conducting a baseline assessment of the food environment is important to understand where improvements are needed and what resources will be useful. It will also enable you to track changes once you have implemented food service guidelines. Your assessment may include food service policies, practices, and capacity (organizational assessment) and specific foods and beverages offered.

Assessment of Food Service Policies, Practices, and Capacity

Restaurant host

You can use an assessment tool such as the Food Service Guidelines Organizational Assessment Tool pdf icon[PDF-479KB] to collect information about food service polices, practices, and capacity in your setting of choice. Engage members of your team who understand your agency’s food procurement and food preparation practices to complete the assessment. The questions will vary depending on the needs of your agency, but generally they include:

  • Type of organization and number of employees or patrons.
  • Food service venues where food is prepared, served, or sold.
  • Existing policies, standards, and practices that affect food purchasing and nutrition.
  • Scope of your authority over what foods are sold.
  • Contracting process and procedures for buying foods and food services.
  • Capacity to implement food service guidelines.

Assessment of Specific Foods and Beverages

Before you begin using food service guidelines, determine the extent to which food and beverages offered in your settings meet these guidelines. This information provides a baseline to:

  • Determine what percentage of foods and beverages already meet specific food and nutrition standards in the guidelines.
  • Establish objectives for implementing the food service guidelines that can be phased in over time.
  • Track changes over time with repeated measurements for program improvement.
  • Monitor compliance with food service guidelines.

You can use the following checklists to assess compliance with the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities.