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is the central controller of military food procurement (Grasso, 2008). Procurement is currently handled by a prime vendor program in which a single vendor supplies all of the food products needed by military operations in a specified geographic region.54 Prime vendors are often foodservice wholesalers that are contracted for 1 year with options to extend for additional years (ERS, 1998).

The military sets its own nutrition standards for active-duty personnel that are different from those developed for the general public, and it sets menu standards to help servicemen and servicewomen meet these nutritional requirements (Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force Headquarters, 2001). Since 1981, the Armed Forces Recipe Service has worked to ensure that the development of all new and revised recipes includes consideration of Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a concerted effort was made to reduce both the salt and fat content of all military food recipes. Significant reductions in salt use were made for many recipes by modifying preparations, using different ingredients, or using smaller amounts of high-sodium ingredients. The degree of sodium reduction was determined by consumer testing, and changes were not incorporated unless adequate hedonic ratings could be maintained (Wollmeringer, year unknown). Attention to the salt content of military meals continues today. The Department of Defense Combat Feeding Program continues efforts to improve the healthfulness of new and revised recipes.55


Beyond federal programs, state and local governments are often relatively large purchasers of food. Local and state governments purchase foods or contract with restaurant/foodservice operators to supply the foods sold in employee cafeterias, correctional facilities, schools and child care centers, public hospitals, senior centers, parks, and numerous other facilities.

By instituting nutrition standards that include sodium criteria for all foods purchased with government dollars, local and state authorities can reduce the amount of salt consumed by their residents across a variety of environments, model more healthful eating, and potentially drive reformulation as companies respond to new product specifications. In September 2008, New York City put in place formal nutrition standards for all foods purchased or served by the city. These standards apply to the more than


Available online: (accessed September 2, 2009).


Available online: (accessed October 15, 2009).

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