Sodium Reduction


State Stories: Sodium Reduction and Healthy Procurement Efforts

Massachusetts Sets Nutrition Standards for State Agencies

In January 2009, Massachusetts became the first state to successfully launch a statewide food procurement policy. Governor Patrick issued Executive Order 509, "Establishing Nutrition Standards for Food Purchased and Served by State Agencies," that requires state vendors that provide a package of services, including foods and beverages, to follow specific nutrition standards developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The standards apply to all foods and beverages purchased by agencies impacted by the Executive Order. Vending, concession stands and foods and beverages served in employee cafeterias are exempt as individuals use their own income in these settings (e.g., no state or federal tax dollars are used to support food in these settings. To implement the Executive Order, DPH drafted nutrition standards, and surveyed 78 state agencies, boards and commissions to identify which ones would be impacted by the new policy. Nine state agencies met the definition and an official representative from those agencies was invited to be on the Advisory Workgroup. The Workgroup finalized the nutrition standards and, in conjunction with its academic partner Framingham State University, developed online resources (including fact sheets for employees who procure or prepare food in these agencies) to assist state agencies with implementation of the standards. Although this helps Massachusetts residents who are served by impacted state agencies eat better, it does not apply to state employees. To address this, DPH staff used its Healthy Meeting and Event Guide to draft healthy food, beverage and vending guidelines based on national models. As part of their statewide sodium reduction efforts which are used as part of EO 509, Massachusetts has also developed a comprehensive sodium-reduction media campaign with an accompanying consumer guide for residents of Massachusetts. The sodium guide as well as tools developed as part of EO 509 are available online as part of the Mass in Motion statewide obesity prevention and control program which promotes a healthy lifestyle. The sodium guide includes information on healthy levels of sodium in the diet, what foods tend to have high levels of sodium and how to compare food labels.