Letterkenny University Hospital in Donegal has been rewarded for implementing healthier food options for staff and visitors.
The Happy Heart Healthy Eating Award programme, run in partnership between the Irish Heart Foundation and the HSE’s Healthy Eating Active Living Programme, has led to numerous facilities adopting new cooking practices and transforming food choices over the last 25 years.
The programme supports hospitals, nursing homes, disability services and other facilities to reduce the fat, sugar and salt in meals, increase the vegetable, salad and fruit offering, offer healthier snacks and beverages, measure portion sizes, provide high fibre choices and reduce processed meats.
Across 2020 and 2021, the initiative was implemented at 30 sites nationwide, supporting the health of over 24,000 staff, with their efforts recognised at the annual Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards, hosted by the charity and the HSE.
Nationwide the 2021 awards saw three facilities achieve the bronze standard, six achieved silver, including Letterkenny University Hospital, and 21 were awarded gold.
A healthy and balanced diet with an active lifestyle helps reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease and stroke, cause seven in ten premature deaths in Ireland.
The programme supports facilities to reduce the fat, sugar and salt in meals, increase the vegetable, salad and fruit offering, offer healthier snacks and beverages, measure portion sizes, provide high fibre choices and reduce processed meats.
Irish Heart Foundation CEO, Tim Collins, who presented the virtual awards recently, said the initiative to ensure healthier food promotion and provision in workplaces was a “highly effective way to tackle heart disease and stroke”.
“We are delighted to have partnered with the Irish Heart Foundation to roll out the Awards programme exclusively across the health services,” said Sarah O’Brien of then, the HSE’s Healthy Eating Active Living programme National Lead.
“Catering services and staff have an important role to play in positively influencing the quality and nutritional content of food and beverages available, making the healthier choice the easier choice for all.
“The Nutrition Standards for the provision of food and beverages sets out clear standards and guidelines and we are delighted to support sites to work to implement these," she said.
Health services facilities interested in the Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards can find out more at hse.ie/healthyeatingatwork/ or irishheart.ie
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