AGRICULTURE DEPUTY SECRETARY MERRIGAN ANNOUNCES PILOT PROGRAM TO IMPROVE EMPLOYEE HEALTH & WELLNESS OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' Pilot Program to Connect Federal Workforce with Local Producers
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2009 – Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan today announced a pilot program aimed at improving the health and wellness of federal employees by serving local, nutritious food at USDA cafeterias. As part of this pilot, the USDA Washington, D.C., cafeterias will not serve any fried foods and will post signs indicating calorie counts for most menu items on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Meanwhile, White House Chef Sam Kass also prepared a special demonstration entrée for employees in USDA's South Building in the special "Say YES to Healthy" pilot initiative.
"With roughly 70 percent of healthcare costs directly related to lifestyle choices, we want to encourage federal employees to live healthier by eating healthier," Merrigan said. "We have big plans for our cafeterias. Already, we no longer cook with trans fats, 60 percent of our disposable products are biodegradable and 25 percent of the foods we buy are from local producers. We're putting up signs that show the calorie counts of our foods and we're negotiating with our food company to serve fewer fried foods."
Merrigan has been leading the employee wellness cafeteria initiative at USDA, and has been working with and advising Deputy Secretaries across federal government to advise on best practices for healthy choices in institutional nutrition.
During this week's pilot, USDA's Washington, D.C., cafeterias will promote employee wellness by featuring a local food menu and on Wednesday including apples, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and green beans. There will also be no fried foods served because Sodexo and McGill's Deli agreed to turn off the fryers for the day. Registered Dietitian Norah Deluhery will also be available to answer nutritional questions on Wednesday, Sept. 16. While soda machines will continue operating, USDA will install signs that suggest considering alternative beverages, such as water, juice or milk. USDA operates cafeterias in the Whitten and South Buildings that typically serve 3,000 employees and visitors each day.
'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' is a USDA-wide collaboration that will connect people more closely with the farmers who supply their food and increase the production, marketing and consumption of fresh, nutritious food that is grown locally in a sustainable manner.
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