Promoting healthy eating in workplaces and food businesses during coronavirus
Even though many Victorian businesses are operating differently at this time, there are still ways you can support your staff and visitors to eat well.
The following advice is applicable for all Victorian organisations, especially those implementing the Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices guidelines, including hospitals and health services, sport and recreation centres, universities, and workplaces.
You can also contact us with any questions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 1300 22 52 88 (someone will take your details, and one of our friendly staff will call you back).
- Implementing the Healthy Choices guidelines
- Advice for employers to promote healthy eating
- Food safety
- Further information
How to continue working on implementing the Healthy Choices guidelines
There are many ways you can continue to work on implementing Healthy Choices in your organisation at this time.
Remember, there is no one perfect way to do it. If you’re currently unable to progress in one area, see if you can work on one of these things in the meantime:
Develop a healthy eating policy
Review your organisations’ current health and wellbeing policies to identify where you could include requirements for providing healthy foods and drinks in retail outlets, catering and vending machines.
Assess retail menus, catering menus, and vending machines
If you’re able to get information on the typical foods and drinks offered, you can still assess the foods and drinks supplied in retail outlets, catering or vending machines using FoodChecker.
You will need to assess the foods and drinks that are available on a normal day, so it’s best if you already have information about every recipe and packaged product that is typically provided. You can always start an assessment and make necessay changes when a retail setting re-opens.
Plan healthier options
You can start planning the changes you want to make to a retail outlet menu, catering menu or vending machine.
Browse our website for some healthy food and drinks ideas and recipes, and find GREEN and AMBER branded products on FoodChecker.
You could also plan new recipes that include seasonal produce. This will add variety to your menu, and can be more affordable.
Do our free online training
Learn about the Healthy Choices guidelines and how to apply them in your food business. We have training for cooks and managers, and for front of house staff too.
Update your vending machines
Talk to your vending supplier about including more GREEN and AMBER options in your machines. In fact, many vending companies already have planograms to meet Healthy Choices requirements (more than 50% GREEN items, and less than 20% RED).
Include Healthy Choices in commercial tenders and contracts
Talk to your business/commercial management department about contract renewal timelines and including requirements to comply with Healthy Choices guidelines in upcoming tenders or contracts for retail food outlets, catering or vending machines.
Plan your communications
Talk to your communications department about how you will communicate your healthier food and drink offerings to staff and guests. This may include signage that explains what the GREEN, AMBER and RED categories are (see our free materials here), put articles in staff newsletters or intranets, or digital on-site displays. You could even get some local media coverage like this.
Talk to us
We are still here to help you implement the Healthy Choices guidelines in your organisation.
Email email@example.com, or call us on 1300 22 52 88 (someone will take your details, and one of our friendly staff will call you back).
Advice for employers to promote healthy eating
Whether your staff are on site, or working from home, there are still things you can do to help them eat well.
Healthy eating is more important than ever, as it can help support good mental health, and supports a healthy immune system.
It can also provide the right fuel for concentration and performance.
A nutritious and balanced diet includes:
- Enjoying a balance of foods from the five food groups:
- Vegetables and legumes
- Grain foods
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese (and alternatives)
- Lean meats (and alternatives)
- Limiting foods and drinks that are high in added fats, sugar and salt,
- Limiting alcohol intake.
Read more about the Nutrition Australia's Healthy Eating Pyramid.
Here are a few ways that you can support your staff to eat well during this time:
Help your staff eat well at home
Encourage your staff to buy, prepare and consume nutritious food and drinks while at home, by sharing advice and links via email, intranet, chat groups, staff newsletter and team meetings.
Share tips on how to eat well during the work day
- Start your day with a balanced breakfast that includes some wholegrains or high fibre grains, some milk, yoghurt or cheese, and a fruit or vegetable.
For example, that could be yoghurt with muesli and fruit, an egg on toast with avocado, or toast with grilled cheese with tomato.
- Make time for regular breaks during the day to avoid snacking on the go, or going long stretches of time without food, as this can lead to low blood sugar and poor concentration.
TIP: Keep some snacks at your workspace so you have a nutritious option close by.
- Prepare lunches in advance so you’ll have something nutritious and convenient on hand when you need it. It may help to cook and freeze meals on the weekend or make extra dinner to keep for tomorrow’s lunch. Soups and casserole/stew type meals work well, and they are a great way to include and use up excess vegetables.
- And for dinner, aim to make half the meal vegetables, with some lean meat (or alterative) and some grain foods like rice, pasta or quinoa (or another carbohydrate like potato).
- If getting take away or delivery, look for options that contain vegetables, and which are lower in fat, sugar and salt. Things like stir-fries with lots of vegetables and lean protein can be a great option.
Share meal and recipe ideas, and advice on buying and using food over a week.
Here are a few sites we have selected:
- Cook well, eat well, an initiative of Nutrition Australia and VicHealth, includes free recipes developed by nutrition experts using pantry staples.
- Fact sheets and recipes from Nutrition Australia
- Try For 5 contains recipes, as well as tips on shopping, storing and cooking with vegetables, Nutrition Australia
- Healthy eating tips from VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio, VicHealth
- Five hearty eating tips for home isolation, Heart Foundation
- Dietitians Association of Australia has a collection of news articles and webpages with tips form Australian dietitians on shopping and cooking during coronavirus.
Make healthy eating part of your regular working practices.
For example, if you would normally cater for a meeting, suggest everyone dials in and brings a healthy snack.
- Use healthy food to bring people together online.
- schedule lunch time catch ups via video call to encourage staff to take a lunch break
- host a recipe competition where all staff could make the same recipe and rate it
- hold a photo competition where everyone shares photos of their own colourful meals.
- Avoid encouraging ‘Friday night drinks’ via video calls and the like. Find other things to do during your organisation’s social video calls, such as dress up themes, trivia, games, etc.
Help your staff eat well on site
If foods and drinks are still available for staff on site, encourage your staff to select nutritious options. This may be via onsite retail outlets, catering, vending machines, staff rooms and other food supply.
- If you have vending machine on site, speak to your supplier about providing GREEN and AMBER options.
- If you have retail outlets on site that now provide takeaway foods, see if they are still providing GREEN and AMBER options. Assess recipes and products on FoodChecker
- If staff are getting food delivered to the workplace, encourage them to select nutritious options that include vegetables, and have limited added fats, sugar or salt. You could even research some local food businesses that do take away or delivery and recommend their healthier options for staff.
- Avoid providing junk food, sugary drinks or alcohol as a ‘treat’ for staff to boost morale. These foods and drinks can increase the risk of poor mood and mental health. It can also undermine the healthier options sold in your retail outlets or vending machines and may not be in line with your organisation’s healthy eating or health and wellbeing policy/ies.
- If you want to provide something tangible for staff, consider a fruit platter, or cheese, crackers and veggie stick and dips, or support a local business by getting some healthy catering options delivered.
- There is no evidence that coronavirus (COVID-19) is transmitted through food.
- Maintaining good hygiene practices is recommended.
- Anyone with suspected symptoms of respiratory illness should avoid preparing food for other people.
- Businesses need to follow any social distancing requirements requested by the Australian Government.
For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and food safety, visit Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s website:
Do I need to wash my fruit and vegetables before use?
It’s always a good idea to wash fresh fruit and vegetables under running water before eating. Don’t use soap, disinfectants or detergents to wash your food. These cleaning products aren’t designed for human consumption. They may actually be unsafe to use with food.
Does the coronavirus (COVID-19) survive on surfaces?
Studies suggest that coronavirus (COVID-19) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions such as the type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment.
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus.
In general, to avoid contact with the virus, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water often. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
- How to stay safe and well - coronavirus (COVID-19), Department of Health and Human Services: