Ever been at a party and noticed that the vegetable tray is the only thing people didn’t really eat?
The problem with getting people to eat better is not just providing healthy alternatives but providing tasty, attractive ones. That much should be clear given the healthiness of South Carolina, a state that despite its rich tradition of agriculture and outdoor recreation counts three out of every five adults as either overweight or obese.
South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well initiative is working to change that thanks to a generous multi-year grant from the Duke Endowment to tackle how companies can create healthier workplace environments.
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is one of the leading hospitals in this initiative, doing everything from making fitness more accessible at work via MUSC Moves! to embracing Mindful, a program by food services provider Sodexo that helps make healthy food choices second nature to their customers.
Mindful is Sodexo’s approach to ensure their menus not only offer but actively encourage healthier eating decisions. At its core is specific labeling criteria that limits both the total number of calories and things like the percentage of fat or sodium in a dish based on whether it’s an entrée, side, soup, dessert, or snack. It’s also all done with an emphasis on full plates and plentiful flavors, making the food as enticing as it is a smart choice. Customers merely have to select a menu item with the Mindful apple logo at one of the many cafeterias throughout the MUSC campus to be confident they are making a healthy – and tasty – choice.
In addition to adding this new level of nutritional awareness, MUSC’s Nutrition Services team has worked to make the Mindful concept a part of the hospital’s larger culture. Incentive programs encourage employees to select these healthier options, including special discounts on Mindful items and a monthly raffle where the entry ticket is a receipt from the purchase of a Mindful option. Winnings range from a bag of veggies from the MUSC Urban Farm to a Dasani bike. They’ve also gathered Mindful-approved recipes that employees can make at home and filmed how-to videos of their preparation, making eating healthy at home just as easy as it is at work.
MUSC’s success in using Sodexo’s Mindful program to build a culture of eating well is a prime example of how to make workplace health a priority across a larger organization, and one that demonstrates how a successful wellness initiative can work.