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YMCA receives awards for dishing up healthier food

Two community centre cafes have become the first in the borough to step up to the plate in a healthy eating initiative.

The YMCA Canteen cafes in Surbiton and Kingston’s Hawker Centre have received Healthier Catering Commitment awards for their efforts to help people eat less fat and salt.

The voluntary scheme, a pilot initiative by the council’s environmental health and public health teams which will be rolled out later this year, recognises businesses that give customers healthier choices, for example by offering low-sugar drinks and snacks, reducing salt and fat content and serving smaller portions.

All types of food businesses including restaurants, canteens, takeaways, pubs and sandwich shops can sign up as long as they meet required food hygiene standards. They are assessed against a checklist including cooking methods and the availability of fruit and vegetables.

Diets high in saturated fats and salt are linked to obesity, heart disease, strokes and other health problems. 

Councillor Liz Green, Kingston Council leader, presented the YMCA Canteens with their certificates and said: 

“Caterers can make a big difference to people’s diets with just a few small, simple changes.

“People are more aware of healthy eating, so by signing up to this scheme businesses could increase customer satisfaction and sales, and could save money by using less cooking oil and salt.”

Jules Hammonds, Head of Catering Services, YMCA London South West, said:

“Giving customers information about healthy eating on our menus does help them to make changes and better choices. This year will be YMCA LSW’s 140th anniversary, and helping people to improve their health and wellbeing has always been a big part of what we do. The Healthier Catering Commitment recognises the importance of preparing healthy food, such as using ovens instead of frying where possible, and I’m sure that it will change the attitudes of caterers and consumers in Kingston.”

To find out more about the Healthier Catering Commitment call Helga Jackson on 020 8547 5002.