Online Program

Improving the health of our nation's veterans by implementing healthy food service guidelines

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Karen Arnold, MA, RDN, San Francisco VA Health Care System, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, San Francisco, CA

Brigette Ulin, MPH, Office of the Associate Director for Policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Amy Lowry, MPA, Office of the National Prevention Strategy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Joel Kimmons, PhD, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Introduction: The National Prevention Strategy identifies “Healthy Eating” as a priority to improve the health and wellness of the U.S. population, including groups that are disproportionately affected by disease and injury. To advance this priority, the National Prevention Council made a shared commitment to increase access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages in federal food service operations.

Approach: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) strives to improve the health of Veterans, employees, and U.S. communities by increasing healthy food choices and supporting sustainable food practices. The VA’s 2010 Healthy Diet Model promotes healthy eating for Veterans, their families, and employees. In 2014, VA compared their model to the HHS/GSA Health and Sustainability Guidelines.

Results: VA has revised their Model to require 100% fruit juice, 100% whole wheat pasta, and lower sodium offerings in medical facilities and canteen services. VHA has the largest health care system in the U.S. and serves 8.76 million Veterans every year, of which approximately 25% have diabetes, 36% have hypertension, and over 70% are overweight or obese. Increasing healthier food and beverage options is a public health opportunity to improve diet and reduce the personal and economic burden of chronic diseases.

Discussion: Poor nutrition is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Supporting diet and nutrition leverages food expenditures to support Veteran and community health. The goal is to support health and disease prevention through the provision of healthy food choices, education, and wellness opportunities at VHA facilities.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the origin and purpose of the National Prevention Council. Describe how the Department of Veterans Affairs developed food service guidelines to increase access to healthy, affordable food. Identify strategies to implement healthy food service guidelines in hospitals, cafeterias, and vending operations.

Keyword(s): Public Health Policy, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As Chief, Nutrition and Food Services at the San Francisco VA Healthcare System for 21 years and National Chair for the VHA Task Force which developed the VHA Healthy Diet Guidelines, I am very familiar with the standards and implementation strategies involved with their implementation. The VHA National Director for Nutrition and Food Services at the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs requested I present the VHA results for the APHA panel.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.