Make sure you’ve performed a food service audit of your facility before you make any changes. This will allow you to evaluate those changes.
Food Services include any concession, kiosk, snack bar, or cafeteria in a recreation facility that sells foods and beverages.
Implementing Healthy Choices in food services will vary for every recreation facility depending on whether such services are contracted out, run by staff or run by volunteers. Making the change to Healthy Choices will also depend on the type of food services involved and the available kitchen equipment and space.
- Identify who should be approached about the changes and work with them to offer healthier choices.
If your facility has:
Contracted Food Services
- Set up a meeting with the person in charge of food services;
- Bring to his/her attention any provincial or territorial nutritional guidelines and your municipal or facility Policies or Healthy Choice goals; and
- Negotiate a healthy menu in compliance with any nutritional guidelines or policies.
Non-Contracted Food Services
- Discuss changes with food service staff or volunteers; and
- Design a Healthy Choices menu using sample menus provided.
Create a Healthy Choices Menu
- Use the menu resources provided as a guide to building your own menu as well as this resource for creating cafeteria menus
- See the Brand Name Food List (www.bnfl.healthlinkbc.ca) for packaged food and beverage ideas.
- Recipes that meet the nutritional guideline for Sell Most and Sell sometimes are available in the resources section.
Create a comfortable eating space
Research shows that when families or communities eat together they tend to consume foods with higher nutritional value, and the risks for unhealthy weight control practices in children decrease. An attractive and welcoming space encourages healthy eating because it promotes communication and allows younger children to model the behaviour of their elders.
Providing physical space in recreation facilities for staff and patrons to sit and eat will encourage healthy eating. Make your eating spaces healthy by providing:
- Comfortable public seating;
- Lots of windows and natural lighting;
- Clean drinking fountains; and
- Access to healthy food and beverage choices.
Create a Pocket Market
- Consider hosting a regular pocket market to encourage the consumption of healthy, local produce. Find out more about Pocket Markets in the Food Security segment.
Tips from facility staff
- Timing is key
- Introduce new products at the beginning of the season (e.g. make changes at an arena at the beginning of the hockey season, not halfway through).
- Timing new vending or concession contracts with new policies on healthy eating can make the transition smoother.
- Always have an open door policy with new healthy food manufacturers
- If can be difficult to source healthy options so having an open door policy and giving everyone a chance to showcase their product makes the job easier.
- Educate front-line staff
- Staff should be trained in healthy eating and the proper handling, preparing and serving new foods. If new healthy products aren’t prepared properly the quality and taste can have a negative impact on the changes you are trying to make.
- Offer patrons a variety of food and beverages
- Make the healthy option the standard option, such as sandwiches with a side of salad. Chips or fries can be substituted if requested for an increased cost.
- Price “Sell Most” and “Sell Sometimes” foods below the “Do Not Sell” foods. In general, vending and concessions make a larger profit from Do Not Sell food so selling “Sell Most” and “Sell Sometimes” foods like fresh fruit at cost or just above cost doesn’t make a big difference to your profit margin but it does offer more choices to patrons.
- Think of subsidizing “Sell Most” and “Sell Sometimes” foods by increasing the cost of “Do Not Sell” foods.
- Market the healthy options
- Conduct taste tests of new products with staff and patrons before making the switch to ensure you have products that taste good and meet the requirements of your clientele.
- Display healthier options in prominent positions in the vending machines or concessions.
- Find a reliable wholesaler that offers healthy options
- It can be difficult to find and source more “Sell Most” and “Sell Sometimes” so finding a wholesaler that can meet these needs and is continually expanding their healthy options is key.
- Use established community links
- If you are looking to open a concession or café think about approaching a successful established healthy eating proprietor in your community as they will already have established patrons and experience with delivering healthy choices.