Sharon Gallagher, Catering Manager and Liz King, Catering Officer, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda are presented with their gold medal at the Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards by Irish Heart Foundation CEO Tim Collins and Prof Donal O'Shea, HSE Clinical Lead for Obesity.
The catering team at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is celebrating after its commitment to creating healthy menus for staff and visitors was recognised with top honours at a national ceremony.
The team achieved gold medal status at the Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards for the nutritious choices on offer at its catering units.
Studies show that a healthy and balanced diet and an active lifestyle help reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Opening the ceremony, which was held at the Ashling Hotel, Dublin, on Wednesday, Irish Heart Foundation CEO, Tim Collins, congratulated the award winners.
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“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,” he said.
“The awards are a significant part of the drive to improve cardiovascular health across our healthcare service.”
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 content.
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 catering teams can implement and support a transition to a healthier food environment in healthcare staff restaurants.
In total, 30 HSE catering units from across the country were honoured for displaying a commitment to providing healthy meals.
Eighteen units, including Our Lady of Lourdes, were gold winners, eight achieved silver status, and four picked up bronze medals.