Healthy Parks and Healthy Foods
The National Park Service serves more than 23.5 million customers each year at over 250 food and beverage operations operated by concessioners in 75 parks. The Healthy and Sustainable Food Program (HSFP) provides standards, guidelines, tools, and resources for parks and concessioners to help ensure these visitors have healthy food options and that the Service uses sustainable food sourcing and service practices to reduce its environmental footprint. The HSFP is a result of a collaborative effort by concession companies, the National Park Service, and food industry and government experts. The program builds on efforts already underway by concessioners in many parks.
HSFP is a key pillar of the Healthy Parks Healthy People USA initiative which the NPS established in 2011 to better link public health with the health of national parks and other public lands. The HSFP is also part of in the NPS Call to Action strategy. Call to Action – Goal #8 (Eat Well and Prosper) directs the Service to “Encourage park visitors to make healthy lifestyle choices and position parks to support local economies by ensuring that all current and future concession contracts require multiple healthy, sustainable produced and reasonably priced food options at national park concessions .”
Visitors are encouraged to use the listings, tools and resources in this site to learn more about the HSFP and to identify places to eat when they come to our national Parks. This site also highlights the commitment statements and stories about our concessioner efforts.
Eating Well in National Parks
NPS Healthy and Sustainable Food Program is Launched on the National Mall
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, and White House Chef Sam Kass celebrated the National Park Service’s new Healthy and Sustainable Food Program (HSFP) at an event on the National Mall on June 5th. With the backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial and the nearby food kiosk which serves hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, the Director signed the new Healthy Food Standards and Sustainable Food Guidelines as NPS policy.
Executives from four of the NPS’s largest concessioners, who provide food and beverage facilities in parks, were also present. Gerry Gabrys, Chief Executive Officer of Guest Services, Inc.; Bruce Fears, President of Aramark Parks and Destinations; Rick Abramson, President of Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts; and Jim McCaleb, Vice President of Xanterra Parks and Resorts announced their commitment to the Program. Guest Services, Inc. provided logistics and each of these concessioners brought their chefs who provided cooking demonstrations and food samples previewing the great healthy food they are and will be serving in National Parks across the country. More information on each of these companies and the food innovations they have already made are provided below.
These are just four of dozens of concessioners committed to healthy and sustainable food in parks. With the launch of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program, visitors will be seeing more healthy choices from the Cliff House overlooking the Pacific in Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Peaks Restaurant operated by Forever Resorts in Grand Teton National Park to the snack bar operated by Golf Course Specialists at historic Langston Golf Course in Washington DC and the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park, Maine.
ARAMARK Parks and Destinations operates food and beverage facilities at Denali National Park and Preserve, Olympic National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreational Area, and Mesa Verde National Park. Their operations include the Morino Grill, offering boxed lunches and sit down meals in remote Denali National Park; various restaurants serving northwest cuisine in the Olympic Peninsula; and the Mesa Verde Metate Room, which received the "Award of Culinary Excellence" from the American Culinary Federation Colorado Chefs Association in the area of sustainable cuisine.
Through their Green Thread® program, ARAMARK Parks and Destinations is working to reduce their environmental footprint by creating operational solutions for sustainable food, responsible procurement, waste management, energy and water conservation, transportation, and sustainable building. For example, at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park, ARAMARK Parks and Destinations established partnerships with local suppliers and applied regional cooking techniques established by the federally recognized tribes of the Olympic Peninsula, thus providing simple, flavorful menu selections that support a healthy and sustainable food platform.
"As a longtime concessioner of the National Park Service, we are passionate about preserving the environment and developing interpretive programs that enrich the lives of our guests and promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Bruce W. Fears, President, ARAMARK Parks and Destinations. “We are honored to be working with the NPS on the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program and look forward to using the program as a catalyst to further educate visitors about the importance of healthy eating, while continuing to provide the highest quality food in parks."
Guest Services, Inc. operates food and beverage operations at North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Their operations include Indigo Landing, a waterfront, contemporary restaurant in Washington DC; a dining room at the Lodge at Stehekin in Washington State; and a snack bar located at the highest point accessible by car in Mount Rainier National Park.
Guest Services is reducing the environmental impact of their food service operations. In 2012, they served over 25 tons of sustainable seafood, 266 tons of locally-raised poultry, and 100,000 gallons of growth-hormone-free dairy products. Guest Services uses only trans-fat free cooking oil, almost 48,000 gallons in 2012, of which almost 70% was recycled after use. Guest Services developed and introduced the FitPicks concept at its National Mall concessions operations, which lets customers choose an entree and side combination that totals less than 600 calories. GSI’s FitPicks menu items already constitute 15% of their total sales.
"At Guest Services, we believe that the growth and wellbeing of our society are strongly linked to the health of individuals, their surroundings, and the environment,” said Gerry Gabrys, Chief Executive Officer of Guest Services. “In the national parks in which we operate, we seek to improve everything we touch; this is our commitment to the National Park Service and to our park visitors."
Xanterra operates food and beverage operations at Crater Lake National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Petrified Forest National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Zion National Park. Their operations include the elegant El Tovar Dining Room on the rim of the Grand Canyon; the Carvers Café, serving all-American favorites at Mount Rushmore; and the Old West Cookout serving real cowboy cuisine from Roosevelt Lodge at Yellowstone National Park.
Xanterra has created a series of long-term goals called its “2015 Environmental Vision” and a “Fresh Forward Program” with commitments to healthy and sustainable food. These ambitious goals include increasing purchases of sustainable food items to 50 percent of all company-wide food expenditures. At Yellowstone, Xanterra serves 1.8 million customers a year. Putting their vision into practice, they buy local flour, bread products, and organic produce. A great example of this is Xanterra’s partnership with Amaltheia Organic Dairy in Belgrade, MT. Xanterra’s support started small but grew as the dairy’s operations expanded into a robust partnership that is providing delicious organic goat cheeses to park dining rooms. Additionally, Xanterra has encouraged Sysco, its food service provider, to deliver Amaltheia products along its regular route, thus making them available to other businesses.
"Over the past decade, we have made a concerted effort to increase our offerings of healthy and sustainable foods in our national park operations,” said Jim McCaleb, vice president of parks north for Xanterra Park & Resorts and the general manager of its Yellowstone National Park operations. “We are proud of our success to date as well as our relationships with local food producers and the positive economic impacts these programs have had, and we look forward to continuing our efforts and support of the National Park Service's healthy food initiatives."
Delaware North operates food and beverage operations at Grand Canyon National Park, Olympic National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Shenandoah National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite National Park. Their operations include the majestic Ahwahnee Dining Room, offering fine dining in a dramatic setting in the heart of Yosemite; several wayside food stops along the famous Skyline Drive in Shenandoah; and the Creekside Restaurant, which offers panoramic ocean views and northwest cuisine in Olympic National Park.
Delaware North's parks and resorts division has also taken strides in serving organic foods, using fresh ingredients and providing sustainable options in their restaurants as part of their GreenPath Program. For example, at restaurants in Yosemite National Park, Delaware North uses sustainable food products such as grains, legumes, flour and sugar. Chefs also use free-range beef, antibiotic-and hormone-free pork and organic turkey, and all fish served is approved by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program. Delaware North also partners with local organic farmers such as the T&D Wlley Farms, located approximately 50 miles from Yosemite, which provides seasonal vegetables throughout the year. Lighter options, healthy substitutions like fresh fruit for fries, and menu nutritional information are already available in Yosemite eateries.
"Delaware North Companies has been a leader in sustainable and healthy cuisine and farm-to-table dining for nearly a decade now and are proud to be working with other concession providers on bringing even more healthy options into our national parks as part of this new initiative,” said Rick Abramson, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts President. “Several years ago, some of our chefs participated in First Lady Michelle Obama's Chefs Move to School effort. It is wonderful to see this effort continue and expand to our national parks. I certainly know our chefs are excited to continue to bring new and healthy tastes to the millions of visitors who come to these special places each year."