Last month, the City of Jackson announced a progressive approach to improving its workplace environment through procurement guidelines designed to drive healthier eating habits. These guidelines will provide strong nutritional standards for public facing vending machines and will update the nutritional standards to ensure all employees and residents have access to healthier options and improve food served at public events. This policy change has earned the City of Jackson the Community Health Leadership recognition from the American Heart Association.
“If we are going to reach our goal of becoming a healthier city, then we need to look to policies such as this as the norm,” says Mayor Tony Yarber. “We are working towards creating a city where the healthy choice is the easy choice. This is just another step towards that goal.”
The workplace is a key environment for maintaining the health of the population. Studies have shown a strong relationship between the physical and social environments of the workplace and the health behaviors of employees. Nearly half of our waking hours are spent at the workplace, and the foods available in vending machines, employee cafeterias and work-sponsored events frequently determine what people eat throughout the day. That is why it is important to ensure all vending machines on city property meet the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The City of Jackson is now positioned as a leader in promoting healthy choices in a number of settings.
This policy is designed to directly combat startling obesity numbers in the Metro Jackson area, where over 34% of adults are obese and over 70% are overweight. Healthcare costs related to obesity in Mississippi have doubled over the past ten years, to $925 million. In addition, 10% of Jackson children are obese and that number is climbing, according to the American Heart Association.
“Jackson is the first city in Mississippi to adapt the procurement guidelines that are designed to help employees make healthier decisions,” says Dr. Debbie Minor, Metro Jackson American Heart Association board President. “We congratulate the City of Jackson for making the health of their employees a top priority. I hope this now challenges the state government to follow Jackson’s lead and enact a healthy state vending policy.”
Healthy and popular vending choices under the new policy will be chosen with input from City of Jackson employees.
If you would like to help your city improve on healthy food and beverage standards, please email [email protected].