Food Environment

In 2011 CanDo began an initiative to support policy and changes to the food environment. (Food environment = wherever you are exposed to food as you go about your day.) This initiative will engage local businesses, recreation centers, youth agencies, and community organizations to adopt at least one strategy to make healthy food choices easier for Fort Collins residents. The initiative will focus strategies in three key areas to create a healthier food environment: access, marketing, and education.

Goals and Strategies

Strategies may include:

  • Adding healthy vending machine options
  • Identifying and procuring healthy foods to offer
  • Lowering the price of nutritious foods
  • Adopting healthy food guidelines for meetings, programs, etc.
  • Providing labels to help individuals identify healthier choices

Why a Food Environment Initiative? CanDo recognizes that a healthy food environment provides the opportunity for Fort Collins residents to engage in healthy lifestyle decisions. Recent data and national trends show the important role environments and policies can have in influencing food choices.

  • The 2010 Dietary Guidelines call for balancing calories, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, and decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Most individuals only need 100-200 discretionary calories per day — often a single snack item meets this allowance.
  • Locally, 47% of adults are overweight or obese and 24% of school-aged children are overweight or obese.
  • Locally, only 37% of adults report eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Among children it is only 32%.

We can work together to create a healthier community! As part of the Food Environment Initiative, CanDo has launched a task force that will provide resources, assistance, and expertise in making healthy changes to our food environment. For more information on how to get involved, please contact Bobbie Kay at bobbie.kay@uchealth.org or 970-495-7523.

Pilot Projects

Both the City of Fort Collins and University of Colorado Health have agreed to be the pilot sites for the Food Environment Task Force. In the past year both places have worked on improving the food environment around them through various marketing and education strategies.

University of Colorado Health

Cafeteria Pricing Strategy: Selected healthier items (which meet established nutrition criteria) are promoted/sold at lower prices; unhealthy “paired” items now cost more to offset the lower cost of healthy items, making this a cost-neutral health promotion strategy.  Healthy choices are identified with an icon and promoted through a comprehensive communication plan.  The following sales data from Poudre Valley Hospital have been gathered to evaluate the impact of pricing/promotion on consumer purchasing patterns in the cafeteria:

Healthy Vending

UC Health has also recently updated their vending contract so that 50% of items offered must meet established nutrition criteria. They are currently in the process of monitoring compliance and reviewing sales data.

City of Fort Collins Recreation

The City of Fort Collins Recreation department has recently updated their vending contract for 100% healthy options! Stay tuned for updates…

CanDo spotlight!

Researchers at Cornell University are looking at the concept of Lunch Line Redesign to help kids make the healthy choice.