A project to improve the healthiness of food offered to children by catering establishments in Ballyclare has been given the thumbs up by BBC cookery expert Paula McIntyre.
The Little Bites project was developed by Grange Health co-ordinator Pamela Davis with the aim of helping to tackle rise in obesity amongst children.
Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information service (NINIS) statistics found that 16.9 per cent of overweight children lived within Northern Deprived areas. Schools and catering establishments in the Ballyclare area were involved in the project to improve the healthiness of food offered to children.
To receive the Little Bites award, caterers had to make healthier changes to their menus or have healthier options in place which aim to reduce fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. Some examples of healthier options made by the caterers included serving milk, water and fresh fruit alongside every set meal, for sandwiches wholemeal or 50/50 bread. Soups were made from scratch with no added salt, salad was provided in all burgers. Fish was promoted and served on a weekly basis and water juices from vegetables were used to make gravy.
Six organisations were involved in the project, including Ballyclare, Fairview and Tir Na Nog Primary Schools, Ballyclare Secondary school, Pots of Pleasure and Johnny Whites and Ballyclare Homestart parent and toddler group. Each catering establishment involved sent a copy of their current menu along with the proposed healthier changes. These changes were assessed by Grange Health co-ordinator and Sarah Best (NICHI officer) to ensure they met the Little Bites award criteria.
The Little Bites award ceremony was held in Ballyclare Community Concerns and each organisation involved in the project received a certificate and Little Bites labels for displaying on their premises. These were present by the health co-ordinator and Paula McIntyre, BBC Radio Ulster cookery expert. This evening was a great success and enjoyed by all, with Paula providing a cooking demonstration at the event so everyone had a chance to sample the healthy dishes.
Michelle Graham, Cook It! dietician, give a presentation on healthy eating using visual aids including fat and sugar display.