Strategize and Act

Use Recognition Programs

Recognition or certification programs can be incentives for worksites or community facilities to implement food service guidelines. Administration of recognition programs can occur at various national, state, and community levels. They are often state-based initiatives where publicity (for example positive press and signage) is given to organizations meeting a minimum of food service guideline standards or nutritional criteria. Sometimes tiered levels of certification (for example, gold, silver, and bronze) are offered to encourage workplaces to go beyond minimum criteria and be rewarded for implementing food service guidelines more fully.

Food service guidelines implementation to meet recognition program requirements is often conducted through worksite wellness programs. Worksite wellness is usually part of a broader initiative that includes other health-related strategies such as promoting of physical activity and breastfeeding and reducing stress and tobacco use. Finally, recognition programs are useful when recruiting new settings, as leaders in these settings have likely witnessed the publicity that other places received and want to be competitive.

Graphic of a waiter with a star on a plate.

When implementing recognition or certification programs, consider:

  • Offering technical assistance and resources in addition to publicity. Staff within organizations may not know how to go about implementation without your help.
  • Identifying specific food and nutrition criteria for each level of certification.
  • Defining how you will determine that the food service guidelines are met.
  • Defining the length of time that the certification is valid and how renewal will occur.

One path to operationalizing food service guidelines in a facility is through building certification programs such as Fitwelexternal icon. Fitwel includes providing healthy food options as part of broader health and well-being certification standards such as increasing physical activity, promoting occupant safety, reducing morbidity and absenteeism, among others. Facilities can apply for this certification.