( Pictured L-R Tim Collins, CEO Irish Heart Foundation, Gold award winners Patricia Rogers, Catering Manager and Winifred Walsh, Chef at Roscommon University Hospital, and Prof Donal O’ Shea, Clinical Lead for Obesity, HSE. )
Thirty healthcare sites which provide meals for more than 27,000 HSE employees have been honoured for their commitment to providing healthy food choices on their staff and visitor menus.
The Irish Heart Foundation’s Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards which took place yesterday (November 30) awarded 18 facilities with a gold status for their commitment to creating a healthier food environment for staff and visitors. This is a record number since the HSE and Irish Heart Foundation partnered for the awards in 2020. A further eight sites received silver awards and four were bronze winners.
Through the Happy Heart Healthy Eating Award programme, catering facilities in healthcare services are assisted and supported to adopt healthier cooking practices and provide healthier food choices without incurring substantial costs. The process involves two tailored site visits – the catering assessment and monitoring visit – as well as all the dietitian’s advice and recommendations for the facility.
With the number of people eating at work on the rise, the healthy offerings on the menu in HSE hospitals, workplaces, nursing homes, and community and disability services have increased.
This has helped to reduce the fat, sugar, and salt content on offer as well as increase the vegetable, salad, and fruit offerings. The criteria for the awards also include offering high-fibre choices, monitoring portion sizes, counter display, and vending machine contents.
" The awards are a significant part of the drive to improve cardiovascular health across our healthcare service, "
Tim Collins, CEO, The Irish Heart Foundation
Opening the ceremony at the Ashling Hotel in Dublin, Irish Heart Foundation CEO Tim Collins, congratulated the award winners.
“The Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards were launched by the Foundation almost 30 years ago to encourage healthcare catering facilities to adopt healthier cooking practices and provide strategies to promote healthy choices. The awards are a significant part of the drive to improve cardiovascular health across our healthcare service,” he said.
Sarah O’Brien, National Lead for the HSE Healthy Eating Active Living programme, said: “Our staff in the HSE are our most valuable resource – supporting their health and wellbeing in the workplace is a key priority for Healthy Ireland in the Health Services. Creating a healthier food environment and providing healthier options at mealtimes supports our staff to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The awards recognise the hard work and dedication to quality improvement and health promotion of catering staff across healthcare.”
Joyce Timmins, Executive Chef and Founder of Pure Joy, spoke about practical, cost-effective and creative ways catering managers, chefs, and the catering team can implement and support a transition to a healthier food environment in healthcare staff restaurants.
HSE catering units from Donegal, Dublin, Louth, Kilkenny, Roscommon, Mayo, Clare, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Kildare, and Meath were also honoured for displaying a commitment to providing healthy meals.
In total, 43 healthcare sites currently hold healthy eating award certificates, supporting the health of over 41,000 staff.
With a quarter of the food eaten prepared and cooked outside of the home, workplaces play a key part in offering healthier food choices. For more information on the Irish Heart Foundation’s Happy Heart Healthy Eating Award please see here.
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