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State Department cafeteria will lead the way on healthy dining

Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters will follow new guidelines that encourage sustainability and foods low in trans fats and sodium.

The State Department's 6,500-employee office in downtown Washington will be the first government facility to follow a new healthy foods model developed for federal cafeterias, the General Services Administration announced on Wednesday.

Rockville, Md., caterer I.L. Creations agreed to comply with the National Concessions Contract Template in planning menus for State's Foggy Bottom headquarters, according to the announcement. The template -- written by GSA and White House officials in consultation with the Agriculture Department -- encourages dishes low in trans fat and salt; hormone-free meat and fish; and organic and locally-grown options. It also includes an educational component, requiring food service companies to offer promotional materials and an on-staff nutritionist to help diners understand the choices. In addition, caterers must use green materials in cafeterias.

"Providing healthier food options is an important piece of a governmentwide program aimed at helping federal employees recognize the importance of overall wellness and make healthier food choices," said Ezekiel Emanuel, special adviser for health policy at the Office of Management and Budget, in statement. "We also wanted to use the purchasing power of the federal government to make it financially viable for the food and cafeteria suppliers and contractors to integrate more wellness, health, local sourcing and environmental sustainability considerations in designing their food offerings for all customers."

GSA is working with the Interior Department to develop a similar dining facility. In July 2009, GSA officials met with executives at Interior, the Office of Personnel Management and the Federal Reserve Board to discuss the possibility of sharing a wellness campus. The four agencies are located within blocks of one another, between F Street and Constitution Avenue in Northwest Washington.