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What is Nutrition Ranking and why should I care?

At Second Harvest, we believe that all foods can be part of a healthy diet, but we also want to ensure we are distributing a healthy mix.

Through AgencyLink, we are now able to rank and track the nutritional quality of our foods.

You will notice that all food items in AgencyLink are now color-coded based on their nutritional value. These rankings are based on a computer program Vanderbilt developed. The program considers high amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber to be healthy and high amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and sugar to be unhealthy. It then assigns a color to foods based on these nutritional values.

The healthiest foods are ranked as GREEN. You want to choose these often. Examples of green foods are fresh fruits and vegetable, skinless chicken breasts, skim milk, brown rice, and whole-grain cereals.

YELLOW foods are items you want to choose sometimes. They often contain a mix of desired and undesired nutrients. An example would be Frosted Flakes. While it is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, it contains a lot of added sugar. Other examples of yellow foods include white bread, pretzels, cheese, and ground beef.

RED foods provide little to no nutritional value. These foods should be used sparingly. Examples of red foods include soda, cakes, cookies, hot dogs, and chips.

We encourage you to begin examining the nutritional quality of the foods you serve. You can look up past orders on AgencyLink and see what kinds of foods you have distributed. Consider creating food boxes and congregate meals that represent a healthy nutritional mix. Try making about half of your foods green and only including one or two red foods in a food box or at a meal.

Please reach out to Caroline Pullen, Second Harvest’s Registered Dietitian, if you would like help improving the nutritional quality of your food or nudging your clients to pick the healthier options.

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