The lowest sugar soda fountain I’ve ever seen: Kaiser Permanente Regional Headquarters, Rockville, MD

Two weeks ago they were serving scrapple here

– Karen Blair, Vice President, Public Relations, Marketing and Government Relations, Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States (@KPMidAtlantic)

I’ve never had scrapple before, but it doesn’t look healthy.

When Karen, who oversees the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health (@KPTotalHealth), invites me to lunch in Rockville, we usually go to a local restaurant.

This time she said we’d be eating at the new, healthier cafeteria at regional headquarters in Rockville, Maryland (no car travel involved 100% #activetransportation). I couldn’t wait to see it. 

Why? Because maybe, as part of a California-based organization, this particular food outlet had been previously seen as a place where change wasn’t going to happen. Karen told me that the employees assembled a Total Health committee, utilized Kaiser Permanente Healthy Picks and other food purchasing standards, chose a new vendor, and here they are.

The title of the post is true, I have never seen a soda fountain where none of the options is more than 35% sugar by weight (one of the products above is 80 calories per 20 ounces).

This is in addition to menu labeling, locally sourced food, elimination of the deep fryer, and better portion sizing.

No one was complaining when we were queuing for our delicious salads, and if you look at the service staff, you can see the engagement in their faces.

Before anyone says, “how could this situation have existed at all in a non-profit leading-edge health system,” I’ll say this is actually a similar story in many organizations. When I visited National Public Radio, recently, I learned about their journey to create a culture of health in their organization. What’s similar about these two situations is the the improvement wasn’t led by physicians, and as I’ve seen, it doesn’t have to be.

Enjoy the photos, and if you’re wondering if you can do this where you work, the answer to everything is yes, our tools are online – check out the Kaiser Permanente Healthy Picks guidelines hereinformation about sustainable food purchasing here , and the Kaiser Permanente Green Health Care twitterfeed here: @KPGreenHC .


Looks appealing! As a celiac, I would still wish for labeling and nutrition information that listed allergens. I saw the sign that directs customers to email the dietitian with questions about allergens, but that’s not always helpful when you’re in line at a cafeteria and need to make real-time decisions about what items to put on your plate.

whoops — just took a closer look at the “grill special” sign, which listed ingredients and allergens. way to go! i’d love to eat here!


Thanks for taking a closer look – I almost didn’t think to photograph the menu board and now I’m glad I did.

And, I empathize with your situation – if the norm you are used to is exclusion, this is the pattern you get used to. It’s our job to change the norm with you,


Ted Eytan, MD