Thirty healthcare sites providing meals for over 27,000 HSE employees, have been honoured for their commitment to healthy food choices on their staff and visitor menus.
At the Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards, 18 facilities nationwide achieved gold status for creating a healthier food environment for staff and visitors – a record number since the HSE and Irish Heart Foundation partnered for the initiative in 2020.
A further eight sites received silver and four were bronze winners.
HSE catering units in Donegal, Dublin, Louth, Kilkenny, Roscommon, Mayo, Clare, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Kildare, and Meath were all honoured for displaying a commitment to providing healthy meals.
With the number of people eating at work on the rise, the healthy offerings on menus in HSE hospitals, workplaces, nursing homes and community and disability services have increased.
This has helped to reduce the fat, sugar and salt content and increase the vegetable, salad, and fruit choices.
The criteria for the awards also include the availability of high-fibre foods, monitoring portion sizes, counter display and vending machine content.
Opening yesterday’s ceremony (Nov 30) at the Ashling Hotel, 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,” he said.
“The awards are a significant part of the drive to improve cardiovascular health across our healthcare service.”
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, an award-winning 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, 43 healthcare sites currently hold certificates, supporting the health of over 41,000 staff.