Community Health Commitment
Foodlink is committed to establishing nutrition guidelines for the receipt and distribution of food. In 2018, we adopted our official Community Health Commitment (CHC) to ensure we are maintaining high standards in the nutritional quality of food we distribute to our network of member agencies, and the people whom they serve. (Foodlink updated its CHC in December, 2019.)
MORE: Read the full version of Foodlink’s Community Health Commitment, which includes “The Healthy Choice” nutrition ranking system. (Abbreviated versions of the CHC and The Healthy Choice are below.)
Statement of Purpose
Foodlink is a public health organization focused on leveraging the power of food to alleviate hunger, end food insecurity, and build healthier communities. Our daily work reflects our efforts to stem diet-related disease and its effects in our community.
To that end, Foodlink is committed to increasing our distribution of fresh, nutritious food and decreasing our distribution of unhealthy foods and beverages. Our Community Health Commitment (CHC) informs Foodlink staff, member agencies and their clients, donors, government programs, and the community at-large of this pledge and how we intend to carry it out.
Policy Rationale & Benefits
Since 1978, Foodlink has supplied food to help families in hard times. In recent years, Foodlink has adjusted its mission, vision and programming to reflect the changing nature of food insecurity, and the increasing rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and other serious diet-related diseases and conditions in our community and around the country. As Feeding America and food banks around the country have recognized, food banks play a pivotal public health role in providing healthful foods to community members in need.
Foodlink understands that nutrition-focused food banking is client-focused food banking, and we want our clients to know that their health and preferences for more healthful foods, are among our highest considerations in acquiring food. Foodlink ranks the relative nutritional quality of the foods in our inventory to assist our community partners in choosing items that best meet the needs of their clients. The system, called The Healthy Choice, incorporates evidence-based research about which foods are the most and least supportive and impactful to long-term individual health.
The color-coded ranking is as follows:
- GREEN: Choose often
- YELLOW: Choose sometimes
- RED: Choose rarely
Foodlink’s Distribution Goals
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 recommend limiting consumption of saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. Foods and beverages with high quantities of these are ranked by Foodlink in the red category.
Foodlink’s CHC and nutrition ranking are based upon evidence-based research, which emphasize the importance of making the most healthful options available to consumers as often as possible. Foods and beverages that are considered the most nutritious options are ranked by Foodlink in the green category.
Foodlink commits to decrease the amount of red-ranked items by:
• Declining full pallets of sugar-sweetened beverages and candy
• Ensuring meals prepared by Foodlink’s Community Kitchen contain no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or high-fructose corn syrup
• Limiting the total pounds of red-ranked items in inventory to no more than 5% of the total ranked inventory
Foodlink commits to increase the amount of green-ranked items by:
• Providing only fresh or frozen fruit and vegetable servings from the Foodlink Community Kitchen
• Guaranteeing adequate water is available for partners to choose for their clients as a healthy beverage option, and in case of emergency
• Ensuring that a minimum of 95% of all food and beverage distributed by Foodlink meets the criteria of the green and yellow categories
Community Health Commitment Working Group
Julia Tedesco, MPA, President & CEO
Terra Keller, MBA, Chief Operating Officer
Mitch Gruber, PhD, Chief Strategy & Partnerships Officer
Laura Held, MS, Nutrition Resource Manager
The Healthy Choice
A one-page summary of The Healthy Choice is below, as well as a sample food group. Click to enlarge the image, or view the ranking system in its entirety within Foodlink’s Community Health Commitment.