Different policy options

Introduction

Different government agencies may have different procedures for incorporating healthy food service guidelines into requests for proposal (RFPs), contracts, and permits. This section provides an overview of some important ways government entities can implement healthy food service guidelines, including creating laws and regulations in their jurisdiction.

Establishing Policy

A formal policy has a few advantages over a program or contract that operates without a policy. 

Policies can be binding and apply widely in a jurisdiction. Policies that establish healthy food service guidelines ensure consistency, fairness, and widespread adoption. They ensure everyone affected by the policy is providing—and receiving—healthier choices under the same standards. To learn more about using policies to improve public health, see ChangeLab Solutions’ webinar, Building Healthier Communities Through Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Change.

Policy is also sustainable. Without a policy in place, changes to procurement practices are relatively easy to undo. For example, if healthy procurement is required only by a single contract, not a broad policy, the next year’s contract can undo those gains. 

At each level of government, agencies and institutions have the authority to create or change laws and regulations in the jurisdiction. It’s important to understand the different policy mechanisms available to determine the time and resources needed to develop and implement healthy food service guidelines in a jurisdiction.

Existing Federal Laws

Certain federal laws regulate aspects of vending, such as the Randolph-Sheppard Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Those interested can familiarize themselves with relevant federal laws and policies using Exceed’s Relevant Laws section

Policy mechanisms at the state and local levels

Policies at the state and local levels can fall into 3 basic categories: legislation, agency regulation, and executive order. Specific terms used at the local level include ordinances, regulations, resolutions, motions, and executive proclamations. 

  • Legislation. The state legislature can pass laws that are binding in its jurisdiction. At the local level, the governing body (a city or county council for example) can adopt policies via ordinances, resolutions, and motions. It’s important to note that nearly every state has adopted a law similar to the federal Randolph-Sheppard Act. These are known as “mini Randolph-Sheppard Acts,” and they provide authority to state licensing agencies to represent blind vendors for vending business opportunities on state (and sometimes local) government property. See Exceed’s section on the Randolph Sheppard Act and permits for more information.
  • Regulation. After a law is passed, executive agencies may work out the details of how the law will be administered and enforced. Sometimes agencies are better equipped than a legislative body to fine tune policy details. For example, nutrition standards may evolve, or a public health agency may have the expertise to set appropriate standards. Agencies are often tasked with this type of rulemaking, the result of which is a regulation. 
  • Executive order. The state governor or local mayor can issue an executive order requiring the jurisdiction’s agencies to implement healthy food service guidelines. An executive order directs a government agency to act in a certain way, subject to restrictions the legislature puts in place. An executive order is not a policy that directly applies to the general public; rather, it applies to government employees and sets rules for how agencies operate.