Food At Work: Workplace Solutions for Malnutrition, Obesity and Chronic Diseases



Part I. Nutrition and the Workplace


Chapter 1. The history and economics of workplace nutrition

Chapter 2. A nutrition overview

Chapter 3. The workplace as a  setting for good nutrition


Part II. Case Studies -  Lessons from the Field

Chapter 4. Food solutions:  canteens and cafeterias

Chapter 5. Food solutions: meal vouchers

Chapter 6. Food solutions: mess rooms

Chapter 7. Food solutions: refreshment facilities and mobile  food vans

Chapter 8. Solutions for families: low-cost shops; food  vouchers

Chapter 9. Clean drinking water


Part III. Resources for  Unions, Employers and Governments

Chapter 10. A checklist of  enterprise decision-making

Chapter 11. International standards, policies and programmes

Chapter 12: Conclusions


Appendix A: Nutrition, macronutrients

Appendix B: Nutrition,  micronutrients


Download a complete PDF of this book for free from the ILO Library.  You also can purchase a hardcopy of the book from online bookstores and directly from the International Labor Organization.

This remains an active program, and I am available to speak about this topic.


“A beautifully designed, written and printed book [that] would have to be consulted by anyone advising on food at work anywhere in the world,” Nutrition and Dietetics, 63, no. 2, 2006.

“Wanjek's book is worthwhile, particularly for the human rights issues that it raises and the suggestions it describes for short-term solutions. He skillfully integrated two branches of healthcare by providing historical background, a human rights angle, and then suggestions for nutritional interventions in the workplace,” New Agenda, South African Journal of Social and Economic Policy, Issue 25, 2007.

“The book is comprehensive and covers all the main issues and provides ideas how nutrition could be improved for various groups of workers including those who rely on street vendors, who live far from work and who have caring responsibilities,” Occupational Medicine, Volume 56, Issue 1, January 2006.




In 2004 the International Labor Organization asked me to write a book about how workers around the world have access to food.  This has been the most rewarding project I have worked on.  Since its publication in 2005, I have presented the book in more than 20 countries.  The project has inspired government legislation to improve worker feeding programs in Mexico, Lithuania, Uruguay and elsewhere in South America.  Students have based their master’s theses on the concepts presented within.

The goal was to highlight the problems workers face in gaining access to a good meal.  But this is not about a free meal at work.  This book documents how food is a health, safety and productivity issue in all countries, rich or poor.  The statistics I collected are staggering.  Over 2 billion people worldwide are iron deficient.  Nearly a billion people are chronically undernourished and one billion are overweight or obese.  Diet-related diseases account for 60 percent of deaths worldwide.


Consider that obese workers are twice as likely to miss work, and that obesity costs the United States over $100 billion a year.  Consider that low-blood iron leads to accidents and is associated with up to a 30 percent reduction in productivity.  Refer to the book introduction and chapter 1 for more statistics, available for free download.


Wouldn't it be nice to attack these problems at work?  Yet instead of being accommodating, the workplace is often a hindrance to good nutrition.  It's hard to get a good meal at work.  Cafeterias, if they exist, are often expensive and have unhealthy offerings.  Many workers have no access to food, let alone access to food storage, water and tables.


Consider the construction worker, who builds cafeterias but has no place to eat himself.  Consider the migrant farmer, who harvests our food yet eats in a field without shelter from the weather and pesticides.  Consider every single worker you encounter during the day: the store clerk, the gas station attendant, the fast-food worker.  Consider your own plight.


Food At Work presents the statistics to convince employers and governments that providing access to food is a wise investment.  Case studies describe "food solutions" that range from the pricey to those that are essentially free.


Here is a Reuters article that appeared on  News articles about Food at Work have appeared in dozens of countries.

Please contact me directly at for more information.