Healthy foods at catered events

Healthy foods can be offered at catered events in many ways; for example, providing more fresh fruits and vegetables, smaller portions, low fat, and reduced sodium or reduced sugar food options.  

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Improved dietary choices

  • Improved nutrition

  • Increased access to fruits & vegetables

  • Increased fruit & vegetable consumption

Evidence of Effectiveness

Offering healthy foods at meetings, conferences, and catered events is a suggested strategy to improve dietary choices and nutrition (WIPAN-Worksites, Larson 2009). Ensuring access to fresh fruits and vegetables at workplace meetings and events is also a suggested strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption (CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011). Available research suggests that increasing healthy options at meetings and catered events influences healthy diets, especially in combination with other interventions supporting a healthy workplace environment (Watts 2016*Larson 2009, Backman 2004, Glanz 2004*). At conferences and meetings with a food buffet line, presenting healthy food options first and less healthy options at the end of the line can increase the likelihood of selecting healthy food (Wansink 2013a*). Additional evidence, including studies focused solely on offering healthy food at workplace events, is needed to confirm effects. 

Market research shows a promising demand for healthy catered options at workplaces (Geissler 2010). 

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Businesses, employers, and government offices around the country are serving more healthy foods at their catered events and meetings. As of 2017, over 80 organizations, institutions, and companies have taken the Healthy Meeting Pledge to adopt healthy meeting practices (CSPI-Healthy meetings). Many universities have also developed guidelines for offering healthy foods at meetings, seminars, and catered events, including the University of Minnesota (UMN-Story 2008), University of South Carolina (SC-Healthy meetings), and University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley-Healthy meetings).

Implementation Resources

CSPI-Healthy meetings - Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Healthy meetings.

CDC-Workplace health - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Workplace health promotion: Resources, tools, and programs.

WI DHS-Worksite Wellness - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Worksite wellness resource kit.

Vidant Health 2012 - Vidant Health. Event planner tool kit: Guidelines for providing healthy foods and beverages at company-sponsored events. Coral Spring: Vidant Health; 2012.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

WIPAN-Worksites - Wisconsin Nutrition and Physical Activity (WIPAN). What works in worksites.

Larson 2009 - Larson N, Story M. A review of environmental influences on food choices. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2009;38(1 Suppl):S56-73.

CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases: The CDC guide to strategies to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS); 2011.

Watts 2016* - Watts AW, Laska MN, Larson NI, Neumark-Sztainer DR. Millennials at work: Workplace environments of young adults and associations with weight-related health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2016;70(1):65-71.

Backman 2004 - Backman DR, Carman JS, Aldana SG. Fruits and vegetables and physical activity at the worksite: Business leaders and working women speak out on access and environment. Sacramento: California Department of Health Services (DHS), Public Health Institute; 2004.

Glanz 2004* - Glanz K, Yaroch AL. Strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable intake in grocery stores and communities: Policy, pricing, and environmental change. Preventive Medicine. 2004;39(Suppl 2):S75-80.

Wansink 2013a* - Wansink B, Hanks AS. Slim by design: Serving healthy foods first in buffet lines improves overall meal selection. PLOS ONE. 2013;8(10):1-5.

Geissler 2010 - Geissler GL. Healthy food at work? An examination of a proposed catering service concept. Journal of Food Products Marketing. 2010;16(4):350-60.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

CSPI-Healthy meetings - Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Healthy meetings.

UMN-Story 2008 - Story M. Guidelines for offering healthy foods at meetings, seminars and catered events. Minneapolis: School of Public Health, University of Minnesota; 2013.

SC-Healthy meetings - University of South Carolina (USC). Healthy Carolina’s healthy meetings guide: A tool for planning healthy meetings and events. Columbia: Healthy Carolina (HC), University of South Carolina (USC); 2009.

UC Berkeley-Healthy meetings - University Health Services Tang Center. Healthy meetings & events. University of California, Berkeley.

Date Last Updated