Sodium Reduction

Arkansas

State Stories: Sodium Reduction and Healthy Procurement Efforts

Arkansas Leverages Worksite Wellness Activities to Promote Healthy Procurement

The Arkansas Healthy Employee Lifestyle Program (AHELP) is a worksite wellness intervention widely used by state employees to improve healthy behaviors and includes healthy food policy changes. AHELP is a web-tracking behavior program developed in collaboration with CDC using evidenced-based resources provided in the Community Guide that is designed for State Agencies, Boards, and Commissions. The program originated from legislation, Act 724 passed in 2005 that allows state employees to earn up to three days paid leave for satisfactory participation in AHELP. The Arkansas Department of Health created Policy and Procedures for AHELP, developed a toolkit to assist state agencies with implementation of the program and manages the AHELP Program and website. The AHELP online portal allows participants to record daily activities and earn points for positive lifestyle activities and behaviors such as exercise, consumption of fruits and vegetables, annual health assessments and remaining tobacco free. Employees who participate in the program are eligible to redeem prizes and purchase paid leave with the AHELP points they earn and the approval of their supervisor. AHELP is available at the discretion of the agency directors for all state agencies and now has 23,000 employees participating in over 100 worksites. As part of AHELP, 30 agencies, boards and commissions have adopted healthy options policies such as the Healthy Choices at Official Events policy, based on the University of Minnesota's Guidelines for Offering Healthy Foods at Meetings, Seminars and Catered Events. In this way, the AHELP worksite wellness initiative is increasing state agencies' receptivity to healthy food policies and is laying the groundwork for future statewide policies in this area.