This section outlines the aspects of an intervention that are central to its theory and logic and that are thought to be responsible for the intervention's effectiveness. Core elements are critical features of the intervention's intent and design and should be kept intact when the intervention is implemented or adapted.
- Stakeholder Input and Buy-in: Input and buy-in from upper management, food vendors, human resources/wellness, and cafeteria managers/staff is essential to understanding preferences and to problem-solving potential barriers to implementation. Establishing ownership on the part of stakeholders influences compliance with implementation.
- Standard Menus with Recipes: Cafeterias must have standard menus for foods offered; recipes for preparation of all food items on the menu; and, standard portion/serving sizes.
- Systematic Menu Analysis: Cafeterias must have a nutrition analysis completed on all menu items (recipes) to determine calories and nutrients per serving for each item on cafeteria menus. Calories and nutrient information for pre-packaged foods and beverages can be obtained from package labels or product specifications.
- Menu Labeling Display System: Menu boards are 8 ½ x 11 inch signs placed at countertop level at each food station in the cafeteria (i.e. grill, entree/side dish station, soup station, salad bar, sandwich bar, and grab-and-go station). The information presented on the menu boards includes only the item name, calorie content, and price. Posters are 48 inches wide by 36 inches tall. The posters list all menu items along with their respective nutrient content including calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate and protein. Posters are placed in a central location in the cafeteria away from the point-of-decision.
- Training for Food Service Personnel: Training on implementation of the intervention must be provided to food service personnel in the kitchen and on the food service line. In addition to basic training on the goals of the intervention, training should address food preparation consistent with recipes/menus; correct placement of menu boards and posters; and appropriate and standardized portion/serving sizes.