Policy Changes to Create a Healthy Work Environment

Why are healthy workplaces so important? Many Americans spend a majority of their day at their place of work, and it is important that businesses and organizations have healthy environments and promote a culture of health. With all the time we spend at work, it is not enough to only focus on healthy living at home. It should be easy to continue a healthy lifestyle while you are at work! It is important for employers to dedicate resources to workplace health and well-being. There are many potential benefits of employee health programs, including improved employee health, reduced healthcare costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved job satisfaction.[1]

The ANCHOR program wants to assist organizations and the City of Chester in creating healthy workplaces to promote employee health. AHA wants to make it easy to make healthy choices at work. We will be working with local businesses and the City to make policy changes that can improve the health of the people working in Chester. Important changes that we would like to help make in Chester include changes to vending machines, creating a healthy meetings policy with businesses, and promoting a culture of health in workplaces. We have conducted nutritional assessments of vending machines at several local buildings, and we will be working with the organizations to make changes to the vending machines. Even small changes such as including a few more healthy options in each vending machine can make a large difference.

The city of Philadelphia is an example of a success story in implementing a healthy vending policy. The local advocacy and community health AHA teams assisted the city of Philadelphia in modifying their healthy vending policy by GSA standards. GSA standards set nutritional requirements for foods that can be included in vending machines, including limits on calories, sugar, and fats. GSA standards require that snack foods have 0 g of trans fats and less than 230 mg of sodium per serving. There are additional requirements regarding saturated fat and g of sugar that can be in snacks.[2] Philadelphia adopted GSA standards in all vending machines, impacting all city workers and residents of Philadelphia.

AHA also wants to work with businesses to create a healthy meetings policy within an organization. Many organizations serve unhealthy snacks at meetings, and we would like to work with them to identify and implement more nutritious snack options. Instituting a healthy meetings policy within a business is an important step in creating a culture of health at that workplace! ANCHOR and AHA also have a number of resources to support local organizations in creating healthy workspaces. We have infographics on healthy eating, high blood pressure, and other healthy living topics as well as advertising materials and signage to promote smart food choices. ANCHOR wants to assist Chester workplaces in making policy changes that can make a big difference in improving employee health and well-being.

[1] The Case for Workplace Health

[2] HHS/GSA Healthy and Sustainable Food Guidelines

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