The Healthy Meeting Guidelines are a set of nutrition and physical activity suggestions to follow during regularly scheduled meetings or special events. The Rockland County Department of Health encourages work sites, community agencies, and faith-based organizations to adopt these guidelines to help improve the overall health of people living, working and attending meetings in Rockland County.
Join us in improving the health of Rockland County residents by following the Healthy Meeting Guidelines. Download and fill out the Healthy Meeting Guidelines Challenge Form and sign the Healthy Meetings Pledge. Once your agency is registered you will be sent a certificate of participation. Add your organization to the growing list of sites that offer healthy meetings!
Take the Healthy Meetings Pledge: My organization will follow the healthy meeting guidelines by: serving at least two healthy options at our meetings (such as fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, low fat dairy or water); encouraging participants to stretch or do some brief physical activity at some point during the meetings; and telling members and employees about the new healthy meeting guidelines.
Follow the Healthy Meeting Guidelines:
Always offer: fruits and vegetables; smaller portion sizes (for example, mini-bagels, or bagels or sandwiches cut in halves, small cookies); lower fat foods and reduced or fewer calorie foods; low-fat milk (1% or less); and pitchers or bottles of water.
Consider offering: 100% fruit or vegetable juice, seltzer, or iced tea (unsweetened) instead of soft drinks; a vegetarian option; a healthier sweet such as fresh fruit, small cookies, a fruit crisp or cobbler, small servings of sorbet, or yogurt instead of offering a heavy dessert. Offering a choice of a heavy dessert (a large slice of cake, for example) and a light one (such as fruit) often presents a difficult choice. If you only have the light choice, very few people will notice the difference (and some might actually thank you for not making them choose); asking for samples ahead of time from the food service vendor. Many food service professionals now have some familiarity with healthier food preparation options and are willing to accommodate requests for changes; and adding a space to indicate food allergies and dietary restrictions to meeting registration forms.
Consider these suggestions for morning and afternoon breaks: raw vegetables with low-fat dip; low-fat yogurt; bagels with low-fat cream cheese or jams; whole-grain muffins (cut in half if not serving mini muffins) and whole-grain breads instead of Danish, croissants or doughnuts; pretzels or hot pretzels (cut in pieces) with mustard; lightly seasoned popcorn; graham crackers or fig newtons; dried fruit or trail mix; fresh fruit (whole or cut up) with a yogurt dip; and low-fat milk or evaporated skim milk for coffee.
Consider these suggestions for lunch or dinner: whole-grain breads and rolls; low-fat mayonnaise and mustard as a condiment for sandwiches, or cranberry sauce if you're offering turkey; soups that are vegetarian broth-based or creamed from pureed vegetables or evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream; salads with dark green lettuces, spinach, beans, peas, grilled lean meat, reduced fat or low-fat cheeses, with low-fat salad dressing on the side; combination of low-fat mayonnaise and plain yogurt for salads such as potato salad; pasta dishes with vegetables, with low-fat cheeses (part skim mozzarella, part skim ricotta) or tomato or other vegetable based sauces; limit meat servings to a four-ounce portion and provide plenty of low-fat, low-calorie side dishes; serve at least two vegetables with each meal and avoid butter or cream sauces; provide raw vegetables, fruit or pretzels instead of potato chips or french fries; include fresh fruit or fruit salad as dessert; baked potatoes with low-fat or vegetable toppings on the side; and avoid offering fried foods.
Physical activity guidelines:
- Schedule brief activity breaks in the morning and afternoon. Have participants stand up and walk in place or have someone lead a stretch break. People will be better able to pay attention to the rest of the meeting.
- Encourage participants to take the stairs. Place signs near the elevators telling people where the stairs are.
- Consider telling people that the dress code for the meeting is casual - this allows people to move around more freely.
Encourage networking by suggesting people take a walk together and talk about their common interests.
- If possible, choose a location for your meeting where participants can easily and safely take a walk. If you are holding an overnight meeting, choose a place where participants can walk to dinner, evening entertainment, shopping, etc. rather than drive. Provide participants with maps of the area showing good walking routes.
- Choose a hotel that has good fitness facilities such as a fitness room and pool. Include information about these facilities in materials you send to participants.
- Organize an early morning physical activity opportunity. The easiest thing to organize is a morning walk. Or, you can arrange for an early morning low impact fitness class.
The Healthy Meeting Guidelines were developed by the New York State Department of Health Center for Community Health and the Rockland County Department of Health. For more information on how your organization can make healthy changes, call the Rockland County Department of Health at 845-364-2500.