Ayoub Al-Jawaldeh and Alexa Meyer

Published On


Page Range

pp. 177–204

3.5 Public Food Procurement and Service Policies to Support Healthy Sustainable Diets

Chapter 3.5 deals with public food procurement and service policies as means to support healthy sustainable diets. Governments act as food provider not only in their own institutions but also in public schools, universities, hospitals and care institutions as well as military bases and correctional facilities. Offering healthy and sustainable food in these places increases the availability of and access to better diets, and, especially in schools, it can contribute to more widespread education about healthy dietary behaviours. Purchasing regionally produced, seasonal foods reduces the environmental footprint involved, supports local food producers and can help increase food diversity. Schools are the most common setting for healthy and sustainable public food procurement and most countries have implemented school feeding programmes that regulate the kinds of foods and beverages that are served in school canteens, and, in some cases, they also provide free school meals to some or all students. Healthy school meals are effective in two ways: firstly, they can prevent obesity and high intakes of sugar, salt and fat; secondly, they help fight hunger and malnutrition in poorer countries. The latter was particularly evident during school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the great potential of school feeding and other public food procurement to contribute to healthier diets, studies have shown that the implementation of programmes was often unsatisfactory, mostly because clear guidelines and criteria according to which foods are to be chosen are lacking. Scientifically validated nutrient profiles and food lists are required.