Food Service Guidelines



Food Service Guidelines are a set of voluntary best business practices that can be used to increase healthy and safe food options, often in public spaces. The guidelines are designed to achieve three key primary goals:

  • Healthier foods and beverages are available and encouraged to prevent chronic disease.
  • Environmentally responsible practices, including reduction of food waste, are conducted in food service.
  • Food safety practices are followed to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.

The Food Service Guidelines (FSG) Work Group is comprised of diverse researchers and evaluators from non-profit organizations, government, academia, and other stakeholders. It is co-hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research National Program and CDC. Members collaborate on FSG-related research, share evaluation methods and results, and consider tools needed to operationalize FSG.

The workgroup is part of a larger FSG Collaborative (FSGC) which includes government and non-government entities, including the CDC, Department of Defense, and Department of Interior, state and local health agencies, and non-profit organizations working to increase the availability of more healthful foods in the places we work, learn, serve, and recreate. To achieve this goal, the FSGC supports the use of Food Service Guidelines in a variety of settings (e.g. worksites, healthcare facilities, park and recreation venues, colleges and universities). The FSGC engages through 4 workgroups: Research and Operations, National Roadmap, FSG Policy, and Food Systems. It aims to:

  • Build the field by engaging diverse stakeholders to use, support, and evaluate Food Service Guidelines
  • Facilitate coordination and information-sharing to accelerate progress in providing healthier choices and thus improving the dietary quality of Americans, and identify gaps in knowledge and research
  • Identify gaps in knowledge about the food service system including production, purchasing, distribution, supply, availability, private sector FSG use, operations, and standard and best industry practices
  • Identify priorities for research and evaluation to assess the factors that lead to successful FSG use
  • Develop and disseminate strategies to support effective FSG use and progress toward this being a standard organizational practice.


Members of the FSG work group collaborate on FSG-related research and share evaluation methods and results.  The overarching goal of the workgroup is to increase the quantity and quality of research that benefits youth, adults, and families’ nutrition and healthy weight to improve health and wellness, with a specific focus on understanding FSG implementation and its impacts on:

  • Availability and promotion of healthier foods
  • Food service operations and profits
  • Customer knowledge and behavior (i.e. selection and purchase of healthier foods)
  • Diet quality as part of improved health and health related outcomes.

The work group is open to researchers or those interested in evaluation methods for FSG in cafeterias, vending machines, and micro-markets; operational practices that facilitate FSG implementation; or the application of behavioral design strategies to encourage sales of healthier foods.

Key Activities and Findings

Goal: Facilitate coordination and information sharing to accelerate progress in providing healthier offerings and identify gaps in knowledge and research

Key Activities:

  • Build a network of diverse researchers and leaders with expertise in nutrition standards, FSG research, evaluation, facility operations, and business models.
  • Convene regular meetings to provide updates on FSG research, implementation, and evaluation activities around the US and circulate notes from meetings
  • Develop collaborative projects that leverage our skills and experiences

Goal: Identify priorities for research and evaluation to assess the factors that lead to successful FSG use

Key Activities:

  • Develop research priorities to fill critical gaps as options for a variety of funders
  • Develop measures and evaluation guide for FSG in cafeterias and vending, drawing upon the experiences of FSGC members
  • Develop case studies/success stories to provide qualitative information that can be used to help future efforts to implement and evaluate FSG


January 2020 Webinar: Evaluating FSG Implementation and Impact, Part 1: Brief Case Studies to Illustrate Different Approaches to Monitoring (listen to recording here)

  • Presentation #1: Engaging Partners to Help Monitor Food Service Guidelines (Chris Mornick, Washington State Department of Health) Access PPT slides here
  • Presentation #2: Using FSG Monitoring to Influence Implementation of a Sodium Reduction Intervention in Schools (Chris Long, University of Arkansas) Access PPT slides here
  • Presentation #3: Applying a Mixed-Methods Evaluation Framework to Monitor Implementation of Healthy Food Procurement Practices in Los Angeles County (Brenda Robles, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health) Access PPT slides here

November 2019 Webinar: An Overview of A Roadmap for Comprehensive Food Service Guidelines – Best Practices and Opportunities to Advance Nutrition Through Food Service Guidelines in Diverse Public Settings (Click here to access the PPT slides and recording of the presentation) Speaker: Jessi Silverman, CSPI

September 2019 Webinar: Approaches to Improving Nutrition through the Charitable Feeding System (Click here to access PPT slides and recording of presentation)

Speaker: Hilary Seligman, UCSF

July 2019 Webinar: Procurement Policies vs. Food Service Guidelines


The NYC Food Standards: Procurement and Meal Requirements in New York City (Arielle Herman, Meghan Maroney – NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) Click here to access PPT slides

Procurement Policies vs. Food Service Guidelines: How they are different and how they can work together (Michelle Wood – Los Angeles County Dept of Public Health) Click here to access PPT slides


Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities

A tool for including healthy food service guidelines in contractual agreements

A Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit

Food Service Guidelines Resources used by States

Healthy Hospital resources including a case series and toolkit with action planning materials and audits:

State and Local Research Manuscripts

Nutrition Standards for Food Service Guidelines for Foods Served or Sold in Municipal Government Buildings or Worksites, United States, 2014.

Food Service Guideline Policies on State Government-Controlled Properties.

The development and adoption of the first statewide comprehensive policy on food service guidelines (Washington State Executive Order 13-06) for improving the health and productivity of state employees and institutionalized populations.

Evaluating the Potential Health and Revenue Outcomes of a 100% Healthy Vending Machine Nutrition Policy at a Large Agency in Los Angeles County, 2013-2015.

Sales of healthy snacks and beverages following the implementation of healthy vending standards in City of Philadelphia vending machines.

Working with community partners to implement and evaluate the Chicago Park District’s 100% Healthier Snack Vending Initiative.


Implementing healthier foodservice guidelines in hospital and federal worksite cafeterias: barriers, facilitators and keys to success.

Review Papers

Nutritional labelling for healthier food or non-alcoholic drink purchasing and consumption.



Steve Onufrak, PhD   Epidemiologist

Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity



Kirsten Arm, MPH, RDN

Research Analyst, RWJF Healthy Eating Research Program