Heath Care Without Harm & 160 other organizations urge Biden Administration to improve federal food service guidelines

  • US & Canada

Food Service Guidelines for Federal FacilitiesHealth Care Without Harm is one of 160 organizations, including other members of the newly formed Federal Good Food Purchasing Coalition, calling on the Biden Administration to fulfill its commitment to updating and implementing the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities.

The organizations sent President Biden a letter urging the administration to issue an executive order requiring all federal agencies to implement the updated guidelines and establish values-aligned food purchasing standards.
“The federal government has an opportunity and a responsibility to lead by example, supporting a food system that protects public health, reduces climate impacts, and embeds racial equity,” said Emma Sirois, national director of the Healthy Food in Health Care Program at Health Care Without Harm. “This executive order would do just that, leveraging public investments and the federal government’s purchasing power to shift markets and spur private sector replication.” 

The administration released a National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022, committing to updating and implementing the guidelines. 

The CDC and the General Services Administration first issued voluntary food service guidelines for federal agencies in 2011, but agencies have been slow to adopt them. That’s why the letter’s signatories insist an executive order is needed to ensure adoption.

The federal government spends about $8.8 billion on food each year. Comprehensive implementation of the Food Service Guidelines would leverage this purchasing power to improve health outcomes and reduce long-term health care costs for the millions of people who rely on federal food service operations, including federal employees, veterans in Veterans Affairs hospitals, members of the armed services, and people who are incarcerated in federal prisons.

Several federal agencies have made strides in healthy and climate-smart food service. The Veterans Health Administration, for example, requires that inpatient menus meet the agency’s healthy diet guidelines. The proposed executive order would build on successes like this and ensure urgently needed progress does not depend on the initiative of individual champions in each agency.