Sodexo has joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and announced new commitments to battle the nation's obesity epidemic, including engaging and motivating consumers toward healthy choices by widely deploying Mindful healthy dining program, expanding healthier food choices in hospitals, offering more free breakfast meals in schools and increasing the selection of healthier, more nutritious options in its vending and K-12 lunchroom programs.

“Research shows how chronic illness impedes academic performance and achievement in our children, but their wellness and opportunities for success are not the only things that suffer,” says President/CEO George Chavel. “It reduces our global competitiveness, it threatens our military readiness and with a projected $6 trillion in health care costs to treat the chronically ill, obesity is certainly no friend to our economy. Through our work with PHA and our innovative wellness programs, we want to help make healthy choices second nature.”

With more than 125,000 employees in over 9,000 client locations in North America, Sodexo has the potential to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of children and their adult role models. The company reaches 15 million North American consumers each day, including the serving of more than two million school meals daily.

PHA works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to garner meaningful commitments to help end the childhood obesity crisis. Its more than 60 partners work to make healthier choices more accessible and affordable for busy parents and families.

“Sodexo’s commitment is an example of how one company can have widespread impact on the food system, from school food to vending machines, businesses, hospitals and hotels,” says PHA CEO Lawrence Soler. “PHA strives to make the healthier choice the easy choice for every parent and family throughout their day, and Sodexo’s commitment today brings us another step closer to doing just that.”

Sodexo’s PHA Commitment includes six specific actions:
• Implement a healthy dining program in 95 percent of food service accounts in key markets by 2017. The Mindful Healthy Dining Program, which offers a variety of foods that balance nutrition with enticing flavors, will be put in place in Sodexo’s foodservice accounts that serve the patrons of cafes in industry, government and campus settings.
• Provide at least 30 percent healthier options in 45 percent of vending accounts by 2018.
• Implement a smarter lunchroom program in 90 percent of K-12 accounts by 2016. Sodexo will use research-based principles recommended in the Smarter Lunchroom Movement developed by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs to equip primary and secondary school lunchrooms with tools to improve the eating behaviors of children.
• Serve an additional 17 million free breakfast meals in schools by 2018 in its primary and secondary school accounts.
• Implement a healthier children’s meal—default fruit or vegetable side and default water or low-fat milk beverage—in 40 percent of food service accounts at cultural destinations by 2015. These locations include places like aquariums, museums, ballparks and other recreational venues where Sodexo manages food service.
• Implement the PHA Hospital Healthy Food Initiative in 20 percent of accounts by 2018.