Public Health Toolkit: Best Practices

Flavor and Savor Training:
A Chef-Led Training on Reducing Sodium in Recipes

A goal of the Onondaga County Health Department's Sodium Reduction in Communities Program is to reduce sodium in menus, meals, and foods served to children and young adults. The CDC reports Americans consume well over the recommended 2,300 mg sodium per day, increasing their risk for hypertension, heart disease and stroke. By targeting interventions to early childhood education centers and higher education universities and colleges, the program aims to train young taste buds to enjoy food seasoned and flavored without added salt, and so reduce the amount of sodium consumed.

The Sodium Reduction in Communities Program planned, developed, and held two "Flavor and Savor" trainings in December 2017 and January 2018 to accommodate all their partners. They were held in collaboration with Syracuse University's Falk Hall – Learning Kitchen and Café, and Chef William Collins, a culinary specialist who teaches at the college. Participants included more than 30 food service directors, managers, chefs, cooks, and dietitians from early childhood education centers and universities.

Chef Collins provided hands-on instruction to show participants how to reduce sodium in recipes using various salt-free techniques, including the "addition method" to dilute the sodium in a pre-prepared product by adding other sodium-free ingredients. He also demonstrated how to use herbs and spices instead of salt, and how to read labels to check sodium amounts.

The training was well received and the evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. The majority of attendees reported that they would alter their food preparation strategies based on what they learned from Chef Collins. A professional video was made of this training and Syracuse University wrote about the training in their on-line publication SU News, https://news.syr.edu/2018/03/falk-college-onondaga-county-health-department-partner-to-reduce-sodium-intake/. The video is on the Onondaga County Health Department website,

YouTube channel, and Facebook page.

Lessons Learned

  • Featuring a locally respected chef with knowledge of nutrition science to conduct the training raised public interest, and brought credibility to the training.
  • The interactive, hands-on training format kept participants engaged and allowed for practical application.
  • Taste testing allowed participants to experience that there was no loss of flavor using the low-sodium methods.
  • Including recipes that are commonly and frequently prepared at attending institutions, such as marinara sauce, pizza sauce, salad dressings, and soups, helped ensure that practical changes could be implemented after the training.

Share Your Best Practices

Across New York State, health professionals are making great strides in improving public health through a wide range of initiatives such as reducing sodium consumption in schools, prompting municipal officials to move toward "walkable" communities and even convincing store owners to remove tobacco advertising. The New York State Department of Health would like to share and highlight your successes, best practices and lessons learned. Public health efforts come in all sizes and shapes – a one-time only poster or promotional giveaway or a multifaceted campaign. Some are more effective than others, but all of them teach us something about reaching audiences and changing behavior. Help others benefit from your experiences, large or small by sharing them with us to highlight on this page.

Examples of best practices

  • Campaign that motivated the community and community leaders to take action
  • Outreach to a hard to reach audience
  • Innovative use of social media or other emerging technology
  • Low or no-budget effort that succeeded beyond expectations
  • A slogan, logo or other branding that effectively communicated with and motivated an audience

If you have a story to tell that others could benefit learning about, please share your knowledge with us by filling in the fields within this PDF and email it to us at bmcc3@health.ny.gov.
Each submission will be followed up on and considered for a chance to be highlighted on this page.